Former U of L offensive lineman Roman Oben made a complete and successful recovery from an injury similar to the one suffered by Kevin Ware.
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Roman Oben remembers the despair of lying on a football field and realizing that if he made one more awkward move one of the two broken bones in his lower left leg would tear through the skin, the way it did for University of Louisville basketball player Kevin Ware Sunday in Indianapolis.
Oben was lucky.
He fractured his tibia and fibula during a U of L football game against Southern Mississippi in October 1993, seven days after his 21st birthday. Neither bone emerged from the skin to compound the fracture, although Oben knows that with one more move it could have happened.
"I tried to get up and I could see the bone stretching through my skin and I kind of passed out," Oben said.
Oben's medical repair work was similar to what Ware endured in Indianapolis Sunday night – a rod was inserted in Oben's leg to stabilize the healing.
He progressed from crutches to a walking boot to wondering if he would ever trust his leg the way he did before the injury. Eventually, the microphones disappear and you are by yourself, grinding on the rehab equipment.
Now Oben is 40. The message he has for Kevin Ware is simple and sincere:
"He'll be fine," Oben said. "He's going to be able to play again. It wasn't an ACL, something that would affect his shifting and multi-direction movements. He'll be able to recover close to 100 percent. Maybe not by the fall of 2013, but later.
"Michael Bush (a former U of L running back) came back from it. Other U of L guys have come back from it. I came back from it and pushed guys off the line in the NFL.
"The thing about the human body is that it always adjusts. He's young enough that he'll recover quickly. He'll have to deal with the psychological aspects of dealing with the whole aftermath and everybody asking him about it because it happened on national television. But please tell Kevin he's going to be fine."
This is how well Oben recovered two decades ago: He reached his goal of playing 20 snaps in the 1994 U of L spring game. He also played two more seasons at U of L and then a dozen in the National Football League, winning a Super Bowl ring with Tampa in 2001. He lives with his family in suburban New York City, working in television and radio.
Ware is expected to rejoin his U of L teammates in Atlanta, his hometown, this weekend when the Cardinals play Wichita State in the NCAA Final Four on Saturday.
Oben said he has minor issues with curling and extending his foot, but the situation is manageable.
Oben said that he was injured while blocking away from the play. A Southern Miss defensive lineman was bounced his way, landing on the outside of Oben's left leg.
"I was blindsided," Oben said. "If you've never seen that injury before it's pretty bad. You almost have to be in the military or be in the war to see something like that.
"When you break a bone, it's not that excruciating pain like somebody sticking something into flesh or muscle. You feel a little pop. It's just a weird feeling.
"But you'll recover. That's the thing you have to focus on. It's not always going to be easy. But you can do it. I don't know Kevin, but from what I've been told about him, Kevin can do it."