Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Patriots' Armstead Retires; Medical, Legal issues indicated

Armond Armstead had so much potential as a football player that Bill Belichick once said that he would have been a high draft pick coming out of USC, had he not suffered a Toradol-induced heart attack as a Junior in the program.

Now Belichick just hopes that he can realize his potential in another walk of life, as the former defensive lineman and All Star for the Toronto Argonauts of the Canadian Football League before singing with the Patriots' last offseason has announced his retirement from the NFL.

"It has been a pleasure being around Armond, as he gave everything he could to play for us." Belichick said in a prepared statement. "Armond worked extremely hard since joining us last February. He's had a lot of adversity personally that he's had to deal with – unusual compared to most other players – but he's always had a great attitude, worked hard and really did everything we asked him to do. While it is unfortunate he will not be able to play football, Armond is an outstanding young man who has a very bright future in whatever path he chooses."

Of course, with a legal battle against the University of Southern California, team physicians and a pharmaceutical company pending, details of the sudden announcement are sketchy at best, though several websites have been reporting for months that Armstead has been dealing with blood clotting problems amongst other medical issues.

The civil trial has already been delayed several times as both sides have harangued a California court with an overwhelming number of discovery motions - to the point that Judge Yvette Palazuelos asked the sides to consider utilizing a "Discovery Referee" to streamline the amount of paperwork handled by court personnel.

The Trial has now been tentatively set for late March 2015 to ensure that all parties would be able to testify without interruption as many witnesses are involved in football activities starting within the next couple of weeks and extending into the first part of 2015.

The 6' 5", 305 pound defensive tackle is seeking damages from the defendants, claiming that he was "Battered" by Dr. Jame Tibone by giving him pain killing injections of Toradol without reservation and without being informed of the possible side-effects.  His claim also states that the defendants are liable for potential earnings lost when he went undrafted in 2012 - and not signed by any NFL team as an undrafted free agent - forcing him to Canada to try and prove that he was not a health risk.

His one season in the CFL was one for the books, as Armstead amassed 43 tackles and six sacks - being named to the All Star team as a rookie and, curiously, performing without any limitations or concern from Toronto's medical staff.  The defensive tackle's performance enticed Belichick to sign him to a three year contract last season.

Obviously, he had not been cleared to participate in any organized team activities and there was much mystery surrounding his actual status - with many in the media writing him off for 2014 after he spent all of 2013 on the team's Non-Football Injury list - so it is not clear if whatever the issues were would prevent his participation in the future, or if his legal representation advised him that he had already made sufficient effort to gain a roster spot on an NFL team.

Either way, the disappointment of not being able to see Armstead perform in a Patriots' uniform should resonate for a short period, then the player that never was will be lost as a tragic figure to Patriots' lore...

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