Then there’s the heart. Some afflictions cut too deep. Some pains too sharp.
Javon Walker is clearly still in pain. Not from football, at least not from what has been reported from the Oakland Raiders’ camp. The wide receiver, who has 30 TDs and more than 3,000 yards in receptions, signed a six-year, $55-mil deal during the offseason, with an $11-mil signing bonus, despite playing in only half the games last season in Denver due to a knee injury.
Sure, he’s struggled. But it’s training camp, so outside of wondering about his conditioning (Walker says he’s 15 pounds light from his playing weight), few in Raiderland were concerned about Walker’s long-term prognosis.
And yet earlier this week he told the team he was going to retire. Said he was done. He even offered to return his $11 mill bonus.
That’s a busted heart talking, Not a busted head.
That’s a man still unsure of the answers to life questions, not a new playbook.
It’s been less than two months since he was found unconscious on a side street near the Las Vegas strip, reportedly beaten and robbed. He spent two days in the hospital with a concussion, a shattered jawbone and broken right orbital, the bode around the eye.
It’s been fewer than two years since his friend and teammate, Darrent Williams, died in his arms with a barrage of bullets showered their Hummer limousine outside a Denver nightclub just hours after the Broncos had been eliminated from the postseason. One suspect has been arrested. Another remains at large.
Earlier this week, Walker told reporters at Raider camp he was fine. “Feeling good,” he said. “Just ready to go out and play.”
The body heals. So does the mind, in their own time.
But then there’s the heart.
Reports said Walker was talked out of retiring by Raiders owner Al Davis.
An admirable move by the aging renegade. But only Walker knows whether what ails him – what hurts his heart – is just too deep, too sharp.
Or perhaps he won’t know for some indeterminate time.
Because the heart, too, needs its own time to heal. If it ever does.