But Garrard realized then that this, combined with numbness in his calf, wasn’t any normal leg problem. Shortly thereafter an MRI revealed a herniated disk that would need surgery. Garrard, whom the Jaguars released Sept. 6, will have surgery soon to repair the disk, he hopes this week. It will sideline Garrard for four to six weeks, making it unlikely he’ll play this season. He’s hoping to recover perhaps by late this season, but at the latest in time to join a team for the 2012 season.
Garrard made it clear he intends to return to football.
“The longer I wait in removing that area … the less strength I get back in my leg,” Garrard said. “It’s already to [the doctor’s] knowledge been at least four weeks when my calf went out. He’s saying that is pretty much, that’s kind of where I start. The nerve has been damaged that long. If you go six weeks, eight weeks, the likelihood of that strength coming back goes down.”
See David Garrard’s timeline with the Jaguars
In an email to the Times-Union, Garrard’s agent Al Irby said the Jaguars withheld information about Garrard’s injury.
“At $500,000 per game, they knew he would be down 4-6 weeks. They didn’t want to pay that bill,” Irby wrote. “Now you know the difference between a first-class organization like Indy, and a sorry organization like the Jags. Indy gave their QB a contract even though he couldn’t play all season. … David was told his back was fine. So he took them for their word.
“Now he has to go to surgery, and Jacksonville is saying, ‘Not my problem.’ What a first class organization!”
Asked about Irby’s comments, Jaguars general manager Gene Smith replied in an email: “David went through the standard process that all players go through when released.”
Sept. 8: Gene Smith tells the Times-Union he takes responsibility for decision to cut Garrard
Garrard said he has had back problems since college. He felt occasional tightness in his back last season but never missed a game because of it. For the past two years, Garrard has also dealt with hamstring soreness, but assumed that was unrelated to his back problems.
During training camp this season, Garrard aggravated his back and suffered a bulging disk during a practice. He missed the first preseason game and rookie Blaine Gabbert started in his place.
“I rehabbed myself until my back was well enough that I could start playing again,” Garrard said. “When I was telling everybody my back was fine, my back did feel fine. But my leg never felt fine. I never really considered that my leg was connected to the disk in my back. I just thought I had tight hips and I needed to stretch and keep that under control. Well, it was definitely all because of my disk in my back.”
He continued treating his hamstring by himself, but then one day, about a week and a half after his release, Garrard felt pain in his calf. With his back feeling fine, Garrard assumed that was unrelated.
But when the pain became too severe, he consulted Jaguars trainer Mike Ryan for more rehab options. After a week of following Ryan’s advice, Garrard contacted the Jaguars again for a referral on a physical therapist and saw one at Jacksonville Orthopedic Institute.
“I started getting treatment, and after a week of treatment my leg was worse than it had ever felt,” Garrard said.
That led to his trip to the emergency room, and a subsequent MRI that revealed the need for surgery.
Garrard has had suitors since his release. One was the Miami Dolphins, who tried to sign Garrard a little over two weeks ago, before he was diagnosed with a herniated disk. At that time Garrard felt some leg pain, but thought he could manage it.
Then Sunday night, the Oakland Raiders called Garrard’s agent, Al Irby, after an injury to their quarterback Jason Campbell.
Garrard’s agent told the Raiders about his condition and that he was getting a second opinion Monday. That second opinion confirmed the need for surgery.
“I am definitely not retiring. I definitely want to be on a squad,” Garrard said.