When New York Giants starting center Nick Gates broke his leg in Week 2 against the Washington Commanders last season, there was doubt he would ever play football again.
Gates has turned into a leader in the Giants locker room, showcasing unparallel aggression on the football field but brotherly traits behind the scenes with his fellow teammates. The former undrafted free agent out of Nebraska joined Big Blue in 2019, playing in 291 offensive snaps. In 2020, he started at center for the Giants, playing 1015 snaps.
The best thing about Gates was his versatility, having experience at right tackle, right guard, and center. The Giants, who had a significant problem at left guard, shifted him over after acquiring Billy Price from the Cincinnati Bengals at the beginning of the season.
Gates was trying to hold back his assignment when Daron Payne landed on his leg, snapping it completely in half.
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Even to this day, there’s no guarantee that Gates will make a full recovery and play during the 2022 season:
“I don’t even know,” Gates told Dan Duggan of The Athletic on his hopefully return. “It’s so hard to tell. It’s slow. I don’t know if I’ll definitely be able to play again, but that’s my goal. I want to.”
“Now it’s starting to get tougher,” Gates said. “I have to get back to where my baseline was and try to get strong again and then get back to being able to play football, too. It’s just going to be hard. It’s a long process.”
Despite the gruesome injury, Gates never lost his sense of humor, cracking jokes as he got onto the cart, which somberly dragged him off the football field.
“I was cracking jokes to the trainer and the doctor that were on the cart with me,” Gates said. “I had never been on a cart before. That’s been my one thing: Unless I’m really injured, I don’t want to be on a cart. I was just like, ‘I can’t believe all these people are standing for my ass.’ I was like, ‘Come on, just get me inside, let’s go.’”
There is no question everybody is rooting for Gates to make a storybook return, but he still has a long way to go before that is even a possibility.