Jamie Silva isn‚Äôt immune to the uncertainty that‚Äôs hanging over the NFL like an ominous cloud. In fact, Silva may just find himself caught in the eye of the labor storm that has threatened to tear at the very fabric of the sport‚Äôs once-perceived mighty empire.
It‚Äôs a stressful time to be an NFL player, and no one epitomizes the uneasy, knot-in-your-stomach feeling more than Silva. The East Providence lad was poised to become a free agent for the first time after spending the prior three years as a backup safety/special teams contributor for the Indianapolis Colts. Heading into the open market signifies a crucial period in a player‚Äôs livelihood, the wonder what career path to follow. In Silva‚Äôs case, he embarks on this unclear road after having his 2010 season completely wiped out.
A torn ACL in his right knee ‚Äď the cruel twist of fate suffered during a Colts‚Äô preseason game last August ‚Äď left Silva no choice but to look ahead towards 2011. With one of the stipulations of the lockout being that teams cannot under any circumstances engage in talks with free agents, all Silva can do at this juncture is sit tight and hope there‚Äôs a potential suitor ‚Äď if not the Colts, than another NFL team ‚Äď once the players and owners reach some sort of accord that both parties can peacefully live with.
Reached earlier this week while working out in Pittsburgh, Silva mentioned he‚Äôs still not at full strength. That stands as his primary focus, not monitoring the almost daily twists and turns regarding the work stoppage, which would be coined a strike if games are lost come September.
‚ÄúIt‚Äôs not for me,‚ÄĚ said Silva about keeping abreast with the latest labor news. ‚ÄúIf I don‚Äôt get healthy, then nobody is going to sign me. My only goal is to get healthy and then hopefully things will fall into place. ‚ÄĚ
Nearly seven months have passed since Silva was last seen on a football field, writhing in pain on the Lucas Oil Stadium turf and covering his face with a towel to conceal his anguish. Restoring strength and mobility to his right knee has progressed steadily since the subsequent surgery, though there are still some hurdles Silva must cross before feeling like his old self.
‚ÄúThe doctors cleared me three months ago to start running and cutting on the field,‚ÄĚ Silva noted. ‚ÄúI‚Äôve got to get my leg stronger so that I can jump off of it. There‚Äôs still scar tissue built up there. The goal is to be ready come August.‚ÄĚ
The no-contact mandate with NFL clubs impedes players like Silva on several fronts. First, players are banned from using team facilities, forcing them little choice but to seek other alternatives to stay in shape. Not wanting to lag behind his fellow contemporaries, Silva has migrated to the Steel City and the Power Train Sports Institute, a spot dozens of NFL players routinely flock to during the offseason.
‚ÄúThere‚Äôs one-on-one training, but there are other players in there as well. I‚Äôm getting in some very good work,‚ÄĚ said Silva. ‚ÄúIt‚Äôs more expensive, but at the same time you want to be ready.‚ÄĚ
The discord also means players must now pay for their own health insurance, something that‚Äôs no small potatoes according to Silva. ‚ÄúIt‚Äôs about $2,000 a month, which is kind of ridiculous. It‚Äôs not even full coverage.‚ÄĚ
From a contract perspective, Silva mentioned that the Colts have indicated to the 26-year-old that they would like to sit down and engage in talks once all the limitations are removed. In that regard, Silva feels that‚Äôs an encouraging step that indicates he‚Äôll potentially have an NFL home next season ‚Äď something that‚Äôs very much up in the air at this stage.
‚ÄúThey want to start talking once I‚Äôm close to being back to normal,‚ÄĚ he said. ‚ÄúI‚Äôve just got to healthy and good things will happen. I‚Äôm just looking forward to playing football again.‚ÄĚ
The forced downtime has been a blessing for Silva in that he‚Äôs afforded more opportunities to be around his daughter, who turns one this month. Silva also mentioned that he and wife Theresa are expecting the couple‚Äôs second child.
‚ÄúIt‚Äôs been nice to spend some time at home,‚ÄĚ said the proud dad.
Silva will also hold a football camp at Pierce Field on June 25-26. The camp returns for a second year after being met with great enthusiasm during its initial go-around last year. Players and coaches of the pro and college variety are once again expected to be on hand. For more information visit www.jamiesilva.com.