GLENDALE — It wasn’t your average offseason for any NFL player.
But for former Cal Poly standout Ramses Barden, the lockout wasn’t the only aspect keeping him off the playing field, and, unlike a majority of NFL players, the lockout might very well have been a blessing for the New York Giants receiver.
Having had his second NFL season end due to a broken ankle accompanied by ligament damage, Barden was able to use the lengthy layoff to let his injuries further heal after surgery until arriving in East Rutherford, N.J., where the Giants will officially begin training camp today.
“Having been injured, the lockout probably helped me,” said Barden, a former News-Press Athlete of the Year who excelled in football, basketball and volleyball for Flintridge Prep. “It gave me some extra time and probably saved me from my pride.
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“It was probably good even though I would’ve loved to get back on the field.”
Barden, 25, said he likely would’ve pushed himself ahead of schedule if the season had started as per usual, but with the lockout, that decision was not his to be made. Instead, Barden and the rest of the NFL had an extended layoff until Monday, when representatives from all 32 NFL teams voted to accept the league’s proposal for a 10-year collective bargaining agreement.
As Barden is quick to point out though, his elongated stay away from the game was far from his or many of his NFL brethren’s control.
“It’s one of those things that, for the most part, is out of my hands, is out of most guys’ hands,” he said. “It’s more of, here we go, back to business. I don’t really have any ill feelings to either side.”
After the lockout’s conclusion on Monday, Barden began to pack his bags and get ready for camp. He boarded a plane Tuesday and by Wednesday was well on his way to getting back to the swing of a regular NFL summer.
“I came back, met some coaches, shook some hands, kissed some babies,” he joked. “It’s nice to have that old feeling back.”
As for when Barden will get that old feeling back in terms of fully recovering from his injury, that still remains to be seen.
Much of Barden’s offseason has been dealing with the injury, but he’s also put in time preparing himself for the upcoming season.
“Rehab was a big part of it,” said Barden, who’s played in nine games over two seasons, tallying six catches for 80 yards. “There was still film to watch, notes to go over.”
And, perhaps most surprisingly, Barden took on an internship at Loews Santa Monica Beach Hotel.
“I’ve got an insatiable thirst for learning and knowledge,” said Barden, who also admitted that it’s never too early to have options for a career after football. “If you’re lucky, you can play more than a couple years. Everyone’s gotta be prepared.”
For now, though, Barden’s concentrating on nothing else but preparing himself — and his ankle — for the 2011 NFL season.
“We’ll see in the next several days how I feel,” he said.