"Really, it was my fault," Wolfe said. "I should have been more aware of what was going on. I had symptoms that I was not reporting, symptoms I was ignoring to myself because I was afraid of wondering if the issue was my neck. Really, it wasn't my neck. The neck injury had something to do with me losing all that weight. And losing all that weight had something to do with my nervous system being screwed up.
"But the issue was, I didn't rest after that neck injury. I didn't let them let me rest. I felt fine. I was 100 percent. Greek was like, 'Hey, you should rest.' But if you feel fine, go. There were no signs that anything was wrong."
Wolfe grinded through until Game 7 at Indianapolis, when a collision with a fullback shot pain through the neck area again. That's when Wolfe started having headaches, and the pain prevented him from sleeping. Yet he had those sacks in Games 8, 9 and 10.
There was one more game, at New England, but no more after that.
Wolfe came back for one practice, on Christmas. He weighed 258 pounds that day.
What ensued was something that not the Broncos nor Wolfe could explain,
"I get on the bus and it felt like I was getting carsick. That's all it felt like. Next thing you know, I'm in a dead sweat. And my vision starts getting blurry. And then my teammates starting asking 'What's wrong?' And I couldn't respond. I couldn't say anything. I could just feel my body shutting down."
Wolfe's teammates were confused at first, then scared.
"He was sleeping and Von looked at him and he was sweating profusely," Knighton said. "There was sweat everywhere. That just didn't look right. Me and Von were like, 'Wolfe! Wolfe!' And he wasn't responding."
Derek has long been on the mend. As of last week he is back to his playing weight of 285 and has been lifting weights since March 1st. He claims that he is feeling better than he has ever felt, and through the ordeal, he formed a close bond with teammate Von Miller.
"Von and his mom and his dad - his mom will call me still and make sure I'm all right," Wolfe said. "Von's like family."
Though his production has been questioned by some, Derek Wolfe is a very important part of the Broncos defense. Sacks and pressures aside, his role as closed end eating up double teams and manning that strong side allows the Broncos to successfully employ their under defense on base downs.
Football aside, it is great that a young man that has worked hard throughout college just to survive is now in a position to allow that hard work, determination, and perseverance shine on Sundays.
Welcome back Derek, we missed you!
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