The Chicago Bears announced via email on Tuesday that the contract of vested veteran wide receiver Johnny Knox has been terminated, meaning he will not return to the team in 2013. The receiver started 27 of 45 games over his three active seasons with the Bears, catching 133 passes for 2,214 yards and 12 touchdowns.
Additionally, Knox served as a kickoff return specialist, taking 55 returns for 1,506 yards and one touchdown, earning him a Pro Bowl nod in 2009. He spent the entire 2012 season on the Bears’ PUP (Physically Unable to Perform) List.
For those just coming out from under the rock …
… Knox suffered a debilitating back injury in December of 2011 after taking a devastating, although clean, blow from Seattle Seahawks’ defensive end Anthony Hargrove nearly folded him backward in two. The hit fractured vertebrae in Knox’s lower back, causing significant nerve damage and sending him on a hellish road to recovery.
The visual alone suggests Knox could rightfully count himself lucky to have avoided immediate paralytic and/or neurologic damage. A return to football was always going to be an uphill battle. The Bears’ decision to terminate Knox’s contract suggests the speedy receiver is still not ready to make a comeback.
According to the Chicago Tribune, since Knox spent all of 2012 on PUP (the final year of his contract) the Bears had the right to roll that final year over to 2013, so terminating his deal can be construed as them opting not to do that.
The truth is that the Bears had every reason to cut Knox back in late July of last season after he failed his physical. But instead, the team allowed him to play out the remainder of his contract on PUP. Folks close to Knox at the time said the team atmosphere and camaraderie helped him stay in good spirits during his recovery.
That move by the Bears in 2012 was the right one but should also be noted as a classy one.
As I’ve said many times here and will again if only once more, I’m strongly pulling for Knox and his future.
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