A freak accident? Hardly.
A few days ago, Matthew McChesney ended one of the quirkiest, most unspectacular careers in the NFL. On paper, he was a journeyman who bounced around from team to team and appeared, unceremoniously, in four professional games. At a glance McChesney is just a shake of the head in disappointment, and then most likely, an afterthought.
But if you peer deeply enough into his past, you'll see a string of incidents far too bizarre for the golf cart accident to be coincidence.
McChesney attended the University of Colorado at Boulder, and graduated in 2005. I was a classmate of McChesney's, and though we were one, very close degree of separation away, we never did meet. However, I was close enough to overhear about his constant struggles and unbelievable mishaps.
In 2002, the string of freak occurrences began. In a team meeting, there was McChesney - recovered from football injuries, coming off suspensions for academics and fighting, and finally ready to play. Without warning, a ventilation duct snapped from the ceiling, crashing down on the defensive player. My brief sleuthing could only find one article referencing the accident, and it is archived here at encyclopedia.com (RIP Rocky Mountain News). His shoulder was injured, and he missed more time.
Then began the switching. McChesney's toughness and aggression made him a valuable athlete, but he never fully solidified a role. He switched from tackle to end, and back again. He even played opposite the great Marques Harris for a time at DE, making him a true weapon for teams who had to focus on the pass rushing prowess of Harris. Then, of course, Harris transferred.
Just when it looked like McChesney would settle down and into his role, a friend poured ice cream on his prized truck. With the quick temper that defined his on-field intensity, McChesney lost it and pounded his fist through his own window. More injuries. More missed time.
McChesney continued to struggle off the field, but he did return to play again. He developed into a constant starter and a solid lineman (during the last era of powerful Buffaloes squads). That lasted all of about one year before the freak train made another unsolicited stop in McChesney's life.
Remember in 2003 when Napster ruled the world? And the RIAA was reeling, scrambling to figure out how to stop the hemorrhaging music sales that free pirate downloads were decimating? For a very brief time, they lashed out at an impossibly select few of the millions who who pirating, and individually sued 261 people from across the country.
Could you possibly guess who hit the freak jackpot and managed to find himself on that very list? You guessed it, Matt McChesney. You can read the article in USA Today here. He faced thousands of dollars in damages.
However, McChesney, along with the others, ended up beating the charges. After months of scrutiny and legal woes, he was finally able to put the distraction behind him and finish up a solid career at CU.
Then began a series of subsequent freak occurrences:
- He went undrafted, despite begin heralded as one of the better players coming out of CU at the time.
- He was signed by St. Louis in 2005, only to be quickly cut.
- The New York Jets picked him up in 2005, and hung on to him for three listless seasons before switching him from DT to offensive guard.
- He was cut. Again.
- The Dolphins signed him off the practice squad November 7th, 2009. He was on injured reserve by November 15th, 2009.
- He signed with the Broncos in February of 2009. Without fail, he wound up on injured reserve by September.
- The Broncos and McChesney reached an injury settlement last year to assure his release.
- The Broncos took one more chance on McChesney, despite an injured ankle.
- And as we all know, McChesney's star-crossed career came to a screeching halt when a golf cart shredded his previously-injured ankle.
When one looks at the life filled with such an unpredictably hexed series of events, a softly whispered question may creep into your mind.
At what point do we stop saying "freak accident", and start admitting a curse?
Good luck, Matt. Please stay away from sharp objects.