AMES — It’s a well-established fact that former ISU all-American Jake Knott regards the concept of self-pity the same way he often treated Big 12 running backs, quarterbacks and receivers.
He attacks its underlying framework, tears it down, and stomps it into the ground. It doesn’t belong in any of the many personal reconstruction projects he’s been forced to undertake over the past few years.
“It’s another test for me,” Knott said of his latest setback — a left knee sprain sustained just three practices after being signed to the Eagles’ practice squad on Sept. 30. “That’s how I look at it.”
Plain, simple, direct. You’ll find no room for nonsense in Knott’s world, which absorbed another dose of adversity when the Eagles waived him on Oct. 3 with an injury settlement.
So Knott’s back in Ames training and rehabilitating under the creative and watchful eye of Cyclone assistant strength and conditioning coach, Clayton Oyster, just as he was for just over a month earlier this fall while he served a four-week suspension stemming from testing positive for a banned substance.
Already, he’s seeing results and is eyeing a possible return to the NFL in as little as three to four weeks.
“I’ve just got to keep going,” said Knott, who spent most of his rookie season on the Eagles’ active roster until a hamstring injury forced him to the sideline. “In a week or two it will start feeling really, really good again. Luckily I have those type of people on my side, like Clayton Oyster and (head trainer) Mark Coberley. It makes my job easy.”
Knott’s NFL dreams have unfolded like many do, which is to say far from seamlessly. He went from sure-fire mid- to late-round draft pick to undrafted free agent. He worked hard and impressed the Eagles, surprising some by making the active roster. He pushed for more playing time and became a stalwart on special teams, striking for eight tackles in 12 games.
So far, so good right?
Then Knott sustained the hamstring injury, which re-occured during summer workouts. His positive PED test for amphetamines came in April. He vowed it was a mistake. It’s a substance he wouldn’t knowingly ingest.
“The people that know me and love me know that it’s completely out of character and not something I would do, ever,” Knott said earlier this fall. Short cuts and Knott don’t mix. Never have. But he served the suspension mostly in silence while working toward a return that finally came in late September — and officially ended just four days later.
“An offensive lineman kind of rolled into me,” Knott said of the knee sprain. “Just unlucky and unfortunate, but it is what it is. A little bump in the road.”
The Eagles’ injury settlement came with four weeks of practice squad pay attached. NFL practice squad players are paid a standard $6,300 a week, although some make more. The settlement provided Knott and his fiance, Johnnie Jindrich, a bit of a cushion and remains in effect even if another team were to sign him before the full month is up.
“The Eagles were great,” Knott said of the treatment he’s received.
And Knott could be an Eagle again. He said the organization has indicated he could be brought back week 14 — the earliest possible return to Philly because of the injury settlement.
In the meantime, though, he’s fully a free agent again.
Once his latest injury is healed, the ultimate destination doesn’t matter. Only the dream that Knott’s pushed along, nurtured by family and friends, former coaches and teammates, does.
“I would be not only letting them down, but I’d be letting myself down if I didn’t go out and give it everything I had and just look at it as a little bump,” Knott said of his approach to the latest setback. “I’ll keep trying to play until they tell me that there’s no way I’m good enough to be playing anymore, because I just love it too much. This kind of stuff happens to people. Hardly ever do you see the story of, everything’s going perfect for this guy and there’s not one bump in the road along the way. That never happens. I knew that was going to be the case and there were going to be some tough times. I’m just getting one out of the way. That’s how I look at it.”