Numbers don’t mean much to Tristan Black.
If they did, he wouldn’t be as confident as he is over a return to the Calgary Stampeders this season.
When the Canadian linebacker had joint fusion surgery in his foot this March, the doctor told him there would be a 20% chance he could ever return to football.
Black was also told he would miss most of the 2010 season after spending the latter half of 2009 on the shelf.
But there he was taking part of his first full practices Wednesday and Thursday, a couple of months ahead of schedule.
“When you see the doctors, they tell you things,” Black said. “They start throwing out numbers. I go to therapy and the guys will tell me I will be good. Then you see the surgeon and he gives you stats.
“I had that in the back of my head. You have to make sure you stick to your guns and have the mindset you will come back. The doctor told me recently I won’t be playing this year but I didn’t hear it.”
Black first suffered a fractured ankle Aug. 28, 2009 in his first visit back home to Toronto, but it at first appeared that it was a simple sprain.
It was properly diagnosed, a few weeks later and Black’s rookie season was over.
In the process of rehabbing the injury, cartilage was worn off in his foot between two bones. There was no other solution than to fuse the joint with a metal plate so there wouldn’t be any pain walking or running.
Asked for a demonstration of his restrictions, the 26-year-old Torontonian can only move his left foot less than an inch either way.
“I’m not supposed to move it that much, but I worked it hard to get there,” Black said. “Luckily, it wasn’t one of the joints to make my foot go up and down.
“Everything went well, but when they cut you up, it swells up and the tendons get jacked. That’s what I was working back from — just making it stronger.”
The Stamps took Black in the second round, 16th overall, last spring out of Wayne State and he suited up for five games in his freshman campaign.
His season highlight came in the season-opener when he blocked a punt against the Montreal Alouettes.
But he certainly didn’t want his CFL career to end there.
“My goal was to be back for this game,” Black said about Saturday’s visit to B.C.
“I didn’t really make it, but I’m kinda back. I’m out there running now (doing scout team drills). I’m trying to get my conditioning back.
I want to get my name up there (pointing to the Wall of Fame at McMahon Stadium).
“I could play now. I’m telling you. If the scheme allowed it, I would be in there.”
Saturday’s game was the sixth of the season, and Black is on the nine-game injured list, meaning he wouldn’t be eligible to return until the Stamps face the Eskimos in Edmonton Sept. 10.
He vows to be back even better than he was before.
“This was the first injury I’ve had playing football. I was playing since I was 12,” Black said. “I never missed a game because of injury, and this one almost took me out. I haven’t done enough yet. I haven’t got my name in the paper. I want to contribute to this team.”