If anyone were to ask, I've always said that September 23, 2010 may have been my worst day professionally.
There were quite a few other things that played into that being the case, but the only one I still remember vividly is when promising Pitt sophomore linebacker Dan Mason went down with a well-documented horrific knee injury.
Injuries are obviously a part of the game, and when you've been in the business a while you've seen more than your share of upsetting ones. Dan's was different though. Looking in the eyes of the athletic trainers and doctors postgame, this was more than just a season-ending injury. The concern was evident and your heart breaks - not just for lost success on the field, but for Dan, there was fear he wouldn't walk normally ever again.
I can't remember Dan feeling sorry for himself, or ever believing his career was over. He just went about his rehabilitation, probably doing his best to brush off the people he passed in the hall or on campus that felt pity for him. There wasn't time for pity in his world. With surgery after surgery, that's not how you get back on the field.
Instead, the light was still in his eyes and a smile on his face as he hobbled around on crutches or with an obtrusive brace on his right knee. He knew something we didn't.
I'm sure no one told Dan what his real prognosis was. Why crush his spirit when that was all he had to keep himself going? He would figure it out eventually anyway. Everyone involved in his rehabilitation just continued working as if Dan were the one that was right.
It's funny what happens when you have faith and believe in yourself though, isn't it?
Just one day shy of the two-year anniversary of his devastating injury, Dan Mason made it back on the field for the Panthers. What a fun day for all of us that witnessed the grueling two-year comeback. I can't begin to imagine how it felt for Dan and his family.
September 22, 2012, what a great day.
Hail To Pitt!