Senior Bob Bullington pushed through the Homecoming game on Saturday despite just returning from surgery on a broken right wrist. When 273-pound center Bob Bullington ran onto the field for the first offensive set on Saturday, he was carrying a little more weight than usual. From a distance, it looked as though he and quarterback Jeff Mathews might have both been wearing the playbook on their right arms; but really Bullington was sporting a white cast that extended to his elbow, and he was snapping with his left hand.
The cast was covering Bullington’s broken right wrist, which he had surgery on four weeks ago. The injury happened at the team’s first practice in pads, when Bullington blocked back on one of his teammates and felt soreness in his wrist right away.
“I didn’t think it was anything serious at first, but I got it taped up and the trainers said it might be something more,” Bullington said.
He went to get x-rays and saw that the bone in his wrist had shifted, meaning that he would need surgery. Bullington bounced back though, and was able to start practicing again soon after the surgery. However, as a center, the use of his right hand for snapping was extremely important.
“[Right after the surgery] I wasn’t able to hit so during practice I took snaps left handed,” Bullington said.
He was cleared to play in the Red’s first game of the season against Fordham, but the constant contact on the offensive line did take a toll. He couldn’t practice as much with the team leading up to homecoming, and was forced to watch film and take extra care of his wrist that week.
Fellow senior offensive lineman JC Tretter, who has also played through injuries in the past, understood the difficult position his center was in.
“Obviously you’re not 100% during games, but what people don’t really realize is that you can’t practice most of the week so you’re not getting the same reps everyone else is,” he said. “So during the game all your reps have to be mental reps, so it’s a lot tougher to come into a game in that situation.”
But as a senior captain, Bullington was not going to be kept out of his last homecoming, something that Tretter gave him a lot of respect for.
“It definitely picked us up,” he said. “Knowing that he was willing to do anything to be out there in the trenches means so much to us as offensive lineman because we really need him out there.”
Bullington helped his team to a 45-6 rout of Yale, giving his quarterback snaps that he could handle, allowing Mathews to throw for 340 yards and four touchdowns.
“This week my hand was beat up so I was a little out of practice, but Jeff just kept telling me not to worry about the snap, that I was doing fine,” Bullington said. “So it didn’t really affect him too much which is really the most important thing.”
As for the pain in his wrist, Bullington knew it was there, but was able to keep it out of his head.
“During the game you can’t feel is as much because you’re running on adrenaline,” he said. “But sometimes I’m compensating a little with my elbow so I can feel a lot of pain after practice.”
Though Tretter has battled through knee problems during his time with the Red, he was still impressed with Bullington because of the nature of his injury.
“I couldn’t even fathom playing without one of my hands,” he said. “It just shows Bob’s heart and determination.”
But for Bullington, not being on the field never even crossed his mind.
“Injuries happen and I’ve played through them before,” he said. “I just love being out there, I like being able to make the calls.”
His fellow offensive linemen are glad that he is. For a position with the ever-important job of protecting the quarterback, it is not insignificant when one of them goes down with an injury. According to Bullington, it is not always easy to patch up a hole in the line when an experienced player has to stay out of the lineup.
“We’ve had a lot of experience out there together, now I know what’s going to happen on certain plays, and it would be hard to remold the camaraderie we have created,” he said.
With or without a cast, Bullington will be on the field this weekend to face Bucknell; it will take more than a switch of the hands to keep him from serving up perfect snaps to his quarterback.