Overcoming injuries and proving those who doubted his talents wrong have always been part of the story for Ahmad Bradshaw. He did it for six seasons with the New York Giants, helping them win two Super Bowl titles. He is doing it again this season with the Indianapolis Colts, who face the Giants Monday at MetLife Stadium.
Bradshaw leads the Colts in rushing yards (371), yards per carry 4.9), touchdowns (8) and is third in pass receptions (31). Not bad for a guy who thought his career might be over when he was forced to undergo season-ending neck surgery just three games into the 2013 season.
Bradshaw, 28, said he is "just showing the NFL I can be a reliable back in this league."
The Giants, of course, saw that for six years. The running ability, the pass-catching acumen, the toughness that made him one of the league's best pass-blocking running backs and allowed him to play well despite rarely practicing due to constant foot and ankle injuries.
Bradshaw gained 1,015 yards for the Giants in 2012, playing most of the season with the neck injury that would eventually require surgery when he got to Indianapolis. With 2012 first-round pick David Wilson in the fold the Giants finally determined at the end of that season that Bradshaw's constant injuries were something they no longer wanted to work around.
"I knew it was a business, and I know I gave everything I could to the Giants, injury-wise, and just being out there on the field. They got my all," Bradshaw said during a Wednesday conference call. "When I left, I didn’t know at first why, and I kind of sat back and thought about it being, like you said, business, money, and injuries. When I left I knew that injury was the question, and the neck was a big part of the reason they let me go. It wasn’t a factor when it was there. I ended up getting hurt there and playing the whole season with a neck. Like I said, I gave it my all whenever I was out there, hurt or not."
Bradshaw admitted being hurt by the Giants' rejection.
"They had a first round draft pick in David Wilson, they had Andre Brown. Younger guys that they felt they can handle the task that I left," Bradshaw said. "It didn’t take me long to get over it, it just hurt me because I felt that was my family, that I was a big part of that team and I still felt like I had a lot of football left."
The irony, of course, is that Wilson's NFL career is now over due to his own neck injury. Brown is currently out of the league after leaving the Giants via free agency in the offseason. Bradshaw, of course, is back to being Bradshaw.
"Everybody knows, especially you guys, what type of ballplayer Ahmad Bradshaw is. He is wired, you know his DNA, he is a football player, he is a warrior," said Indianapolis coach Chuck Pagano. " He is a competitive son of a gun. He is running the ball well, he is great on third down, he’s great out of the backfield. Catching the ball, protection, and third down, he is doing a lot of stuff for us."
Bradshaw admitted that playing in front of the MetLife Stadium crowd Monday will be special for him.
"Oh of course, that was family to me at one time and that was like home to me. Just to be able to go back home and be around old fans, and play in front of old fans of mine, and family, just to get back and see those guys, and be in that atmosphere, it gives you a lot," Bradshaw said. "It makes me anxious just to be ready for this game and be ready to go."
When the Giants let Bradshaw go two seasons ago it was a decision that was hard to argue with. He was costing the Giants a lot of money, was constantly limited by injuries and the Giants seemed to be well-enough stocked at the position to move on without him. The neck surgery only seemed to confirm that it was the right move.
Now, though, the Giants could certainly use a lot of what Bradshaw is providing the Colts. Did the Giants make the right call by moving on without Bradshaw?
The floor is yours.