You can hear the swirls of music, the applause of the gathered fans — Mariano Rivera will not be felled by an injury, he will not abide by the limits of time. He is coming back, and there is no question about it apparently.

“I’m coming back. Write it down, in big letters. I’m not going out like this.” said Rivera, who according to Yankees beat writer Bryan Hoch, will return to throw for the Yankees in 2013 as a 43 year old near miracle of longevity and stubbornness.

Rivera’s future had been put in doubt by the severity of last nights injury (a torn ACL and meniscus), its recovery time (6-8 months, at least), Rivera’s age, and seeming desire to make this season his last season, but now while the Yankees struggle to replace Mo, they can at least be relieved to know that the Sandman will, someday, enter again.

2013

What happens then though? That’s a question that few are ready to either examine or answer, but while a Rivera return in 2013 is whats best for baseball and certainly the Yankees, I have to wonder what that could theoretically mean for a David Robertson that relishes the new role and excels, or a Rafael Soriano that re-finds his dominant 9th inning abilities.

As the Yankees felt duty bound to hand Andy Pettitte an eventual role in their rotation, even when it was already over-full (ah, those were the days), the team will surely give Rivera back the 9th inning when he returns next year, as they should. But what if that means either stammering Robertson’s progress, or perhaps driving Soriano to use his out clause and free the Yankees up from another albatross of a contract? Interesting stuff to ponder as we wait to see if either Robertson or Soriano can rise to the occasion and fill in for Mariano Rivera while he works on his Lazarus impression.

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Rivera’s injury is just the latest of the sort in a trend that seems to be striking big names in other the other sports. Just last week, Chicago Bulls star Derrick Rose crumbled to the ground while driving to the hoop late in Game 1 of their series  versus the 76ers. The next day, the fears of all of Chicago were confirmed when it was announced that Rose had suffered the dreaded torn ACL. So what is the future for Rose? Sadly, it’s not good.

 

Rose is unique in that no one in the game can match his speed and body control while driving the lane. Not Lebron. Not Kobe. Not anyone. Now those two players along with several others are far better in other aspects of their game (shooting, defense, etc), and that is what Rose has to focus on. Rose will never, I repeat, never be the same player ever again. It just won’t happen. He won’t have the ability to cut the same way. It will take years for him to build that confidence back up, if he ever does. Now, Rose is very young, and very talented. His career is far from done, but it has taken a big turn.  Rose will have to develop the rest of his game in order to compensate for the huge edge he lost in his driving game. Here’s hoping he does. It would be such a shame for such a great talent to be gone with one play.

Now let’s move to the NFL. There were two huge running backs who went down with the same ACL injury, Jamaal Charles and Adrian Peterson.  Charles burst onto the scene two years ago, and was ready to have a season to propel him to the top of the list of best running backs in the NFL. Unfortunately, this dream was cut down in just the second week of the season, when he was hurt against Detroit. Charles was seen as primarily an endurance back who could outrun anyone on the football field. His speed is sure to take a hit with this injury, as is his cutting ability. It is sad to say, but I don’t see Charles coming close to the stardom he achieved just two short years ago. Things can change so fast.

 

Now I don’t think the same will happen for Peterson. Just like the aforementioned Rose, Peterson was just starting to tap into what seem like his endless talent. Peterson could outrun any player in the defensive secondary, and run over virtually any linebackers. However, Peterson has the longest road to recovery of all of these players, as he also torn his MCL.

 

Peterson is widely considered to be one of the hardest workers in football, so one can only assume he will put the same effort into his extensive rehab. Here’s why I think Peterson’s recovery will be different then Charles and even Rose: he has already developed a backup plan for this injury. That is of course his strength. While it’s unlikely that Peterson will be able to capture the absolute dominance he once had, he still has the ability to turn into a brute force running back that can slowly gain his speed and agility back. I hope I’m right. AP had the potential to be the greatest NFL running back of all time. And that’s not an exaggeration. His skill set, plain and simply, was unmatched. I hope that sometime down the road, that “was” can turn into an “is”.

What do you think? Will these superb athletes be able to get their swagger back? Let us know in the comments!