CALGARY ” It was two days before the Calgary Stampeders’ 2011 season opener when rookie offensive lineman John Bender showed up for practice with a little tightness in his left calf muscle.
Nothing serious, he thought. Perhaps the University of Nevada grad been kicked accidentally during one of those line-of-scrimmage battles that are par for the course.
So the Stamps’ third-round pick in the 2010 Canadian Football League draft soldiered on.
“By the time practice was over, I was nauseous and I was in a world of pain,” recalled Bender. “When I came in the next day, they sent me to the doctor right away, and he gave me some pills. And the next day (July 1, game day) when I showed up, they wouldn’t even look at me; they sent me to emergency right away.”
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And that’s where Bender watched the Stamps’ season-opening loss to the Toronto Argonauts. And that’s where he discovered just how serious that tightness turned out to be ” a staph infection believed to have entered his bloodstream through a hair follicle on his leg that left him hooked up to an IV drug feed 24 hours a day for the next two weeks. That resulted in his left leg swelling to twice its normal size (and he’s got the sickening photos on his iPhone to prove it), and left him temporarily quarantined from the team to prevent the infection from spreading.
Nearly four weeks later, Bender is finally on his feet again and doing some light drills. But he’s still not ready to return to the Stampeders ” they couldn’t place him on their injured list because he was on the practice roster at the time; they ended up releasing him but will likely re-sign him once he’s back at full health.
And he still doesn’t quite understand how it all
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