1. Welcome! Please take a few seconds to create your free account to post threads, make some friends, remove a few ads while surfing and much more. ClutchFans has been bringing fans together to talk Houston Sports since 1996. Join us!

Ben Tate: No Pain, No Gain

Discussion in 'Houston Texans' started by HillBoy, Dec 12, 2013.

  1. HillBoy

    HillBoy Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Apr 14, 2003
    Messages:
    8,128
    Likes Received:
    1,457
    Here's a great article on Texans RB Ben Tate and what he's going through to stay on the field during this lost football season. I understand that his main motivation is for a new free agent contract but that does not diminish what he is going through physically and emotionally:

    http://mmqb.si.com/2013/12/12/ben-tate-houston-texans-acupuncture/

    Ben Tate: No Pain, No Gain

    The Texans’ season is a lost cause, but there’s one reason to stick with them: a running back who’s playing through the agony of four broken ribs—and enduring acupuncture to cope—to prove he’s worth a free-agent investment

    By Robert Klemko

    HOUSTON — It’s 4 p.m. on a Tuesday in early December, and a young Vietnamese man known to his clients as Dr. Ho presses his fingers against the muscled back of Ben Tate. The 220-pound 25-year-old bites into a white towel to muffle his screams as Dr. Ho, with a slight smirk on his face, methodically and rapidly twists one of the inch-and-a-half long acupuncture needles digging into Tate’s skin in a rectangular pattern just under his left shoulder blade. The spot is not far from where Dontari Poe, the Chiefs’ 346-pound defensive tackle, landed with the crown of his helmet on Oct. 20, breaking four of Tate’s ribs.

    We’re here because Tate chose not to rest after that blow, the opposite of what most normal people would do if faced with the prospect of playing running back in the NFL with broken ribs. Instead, the Texans’ new top rusher, who was promoted after a season-ending injury to his friend and rival Arian Foster, chose to play through the pain. He mitigates it, to some extent, with a special recipe of Eastern and Western acupuncture, a secret technique that has been practiced by Dr. Casey Ho’s family for eight generations and is sought out by players throughout the league.

    Why does Tate continue to soldier on this season through the pain? The answer is complicated. Head coach Gary Kubiak has been fired, and the 2-11 Texans have no shot at the playoffs, and yet Tate continues to put himself through hell on and off the field. The real legacy of his 2013 season will come in the form of a new contract for the most intriguing free agent of the upcoming offseason.

    The popular yet ultimately flawed narrative is that Tate is only playing for a payday. And, yes, he has put himself in line for a huge raise. But we often boil such choices down to a single emotion: pride, recklessness, loyalty, selfishness, money or love. It’s easier to pick one and explain it that way than to offer the real reason: all of the above. It’s even easier to label a person than it is to grasp what survival and success mean in the unforgiving world of professional football.

    Ben Tate Sr. doesn’t care for football. He does, however, claim the distinction of being the only player Joe Paterno personally recruited out of high school in 1978 but couldn’t sign to a scholarship. Years after Ben Sr. turned down Paterno, choosing instead to play at his brother’s alma mater, tiny North Carolina Central, he showed up at Penn State with his son, Ben Jr., for a high school camp.

    “We got to meet him and he actually remembered me. He tried to kick me,” Ben Sr. says of Paterno. “I really didn’t like football. I played football to stay in shape for wrestling, then the football scholarships started coming. But I loved to compete.”

    Despite recurring neck pain from a high school injury, Ben Sr. went on to lead NCCU in rushing in 1981 and ’82, before breaking his leg midway through his senior season. In an era before consistent, hyper-accurate medical reports and in-depth character evaluation for NFL prospects, Ben Sr. was chosen in the 11th round of the ’83 draft by the Lions, who quickly discovered his indifference to the sport and released him in training camp. He bounced around the league and the USFL for several years before the Jets discovered that his neck pain resulted from an injury that could lead to paralysis if aggravated. His football career was over in a flash. Today he lives in Maryland and drives a gasoline truck, delivering fuel to service stations.

    “When my son picked football, I told him, ‘Use this for an education,’ ” Tate Sr. says. “Once he got his degree, I said, ‘Son, you don’t have to play football anymore,’ and he said, ‘Dad, it’s in my heart.’ I was lollygagging in the league. I didn’t care. And when I did finally care, it was too late. But my son, he loves it.”

    The younger Tate has never been a lollygagger in the NFL, but there was a time when he didn’t take the job as seriously as he does now. A second-round pick out of Auburn in 2010, he broke his ankle in August of that year and went on IR for the season. The following year he was expected to become a regular contributor behind Foster, but he tweaked his hamstring in the preseason, and his coach said something that upset the second-year back.

    “Tate just hasn’t come along,” Kubiak told reporters. “Everybody thought he could—our trainers, our doctors—but he hasn’t, so we’ll listen to him.”

    Privately, Tate fumed. He had been working harder than ever, changing his diet and embracing all manners of rehabilitation. What was being reported as a hamstring injury was actually a hamstring tear, he says. He had been given a four to six week timetable for returning but missed only three weeks.

    I want the team to win. I want to help them out. But I have to be selfish to the fact that this is my opportunity,” Tate says. “The pain gets put to the side.

    “For him to say that to the media,” Tate says, “that made me feel like, Why would I want to come back and play for someone that’s putting me down, when you know what I’m going through? For him to make it seem like I’m a lazy guy or not a tough guy, that was really unfair to me.

    “I don’t know if we ever did get past that. We probably smoothed it out during this offseason. We sat down and talked. I told him pretty much those exact words. I think he realized, maybe it was just the heat and pressure of the season that got to him.”

    That conversation took more than a year to happen, yet expressing himself has never been a problem for Tate. Last offseason he got so tired of telling people he’s from Maryland (not Alabama or Texas) that he had the state flag tattooed in red ink across his scarred right forearm, to go along with his initials on his triceps. When people ask where he’s from, he just raises the heraldry of Lord Calvert, founder of Baltimore.

    When people ask him to come out of the game, that’s when he raises his voice. He’s refused on more than one occasion to exit for his new backup, Dennis Johnson, a mid-season acquisition.

    “He will speak his piece, and I like him for that,” says his position coach, former NFL running back Chick Harris. “He’s up front, and whatever’s on his mind he says. He just wants to show his worth.”

    At the beginning, Tate says he got into shouting matches with Foster, who went undrafted out of Tennessee in 2009 and was on a minimum contract.

    “When I first got here he wouldn’t help me with none of the plays,” Tate says. “I was a second-rounder and he was undrafted, so he wasn’t really trying to help me. Despite all that, all the arguments, all the times I wanted to beat him up, we have become friends.”

    Tate’s relationship with Johnson is different. He sees potential in the younger, smaller back from Arkansas. Tate says he tutors him on the playbook, but when it’s game time he’s not coming out, no matter what.

    “At that moment,” he says, “I kind of have to be selfish. I want the team to win. I want to help them out. But I have to be selfish to the fact that this is my opportunity. The pain gets put to the side. What if I sat out all these weeks and somebody else like D.J. had the opportunity and played well? They could be like, what do we need you for?”

    Ben’s father saw it differently after watching the Jacksonville game in Week 12. After his son rushed for one yard on seven carries, Tate Sr. called and told him, If you’re hurt, you need to sit down.

    “I said, ‘Son, it doesn’t look good at all,’ ” the father recalls. “I broke three ribs one time and every time you take a deep breath it hurts. If you can’t play the right way you don’t even need to be on the field. Who plays with broken ribs anyway?”

    Tate’s response: “Dad, I’m tougher than you.”

    Maybe son knows best: After that conversation, he broke out for a season-high 102 yards and three touchdowns against the Patriots, though it turned out to be Houston’s 10th loss in a row. Excluding the Jacksonville game, Tate has rushed for 380 yards on 92 carries in five games with the four broken ribs. Asked what it means to see Tate gutting it out, first-year quarterback Case Keenum said the locker room is taking cues from his toughness. It may be the only thing worth watching as Houston closes out its lost season.
     
    1 person likes this.
  2. Nick

    Nick Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Feb 28, 1999
    Messages:
    43,602
    Likes Received:
    8,958
    Part of the "knock" on him in the past was that he didn't really play through the multiple injuries, and didn't play hard. I know they mentioned his hamstring in 2011, but he was pretty insignificant and "dis-interested" for much of 2012 as well.

    Now, all of a sudden with the contract on the line, he's playing through pain, he's refusing to come out of games, and he's working hard... I guess I can say that's about to be expected, but not sure if its "admirable".

    And even at full strength, Tate is average at best.... and will be overpaid.
     
  3. vinsensual

    vinsensual Member

    Joined:
    Nov 2, 2008
    Messages:
    8,417
    Likes Received:
    741
    I don't know about overpaid, but definitely won't be getting the money he thinks he'll be worth. Maybe 1-1.5 million a year, around where Chris Ivory got, who's also injury prone but runs harder.

    The 1 yard game against the Jags and the wishy washy comment left a bitter taste.
     
  4. REEKO_HTOWN

    REEKO_HTOWN I'm Rich Biiiiaaatch!

    Joined:
    Jun 26, 2008
    Messages:
    45,201
    Likes Received:
    15,460
    Just sit this guy for the rest of the season and see if you can discover some RB talent off the street. No need for him to play because it doesn't benefit the team's future AT ALL. He's leaving.
     
  5. Old Man Rock

    Old Man Rock Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Oct 23, 1999
    Messages:
    7,157
    Likes Received:
    516
    He'll definitely get more than that. Cleveland is already lined up to give him a big payday and there will be others to follow. He'll get overpaid no doubt.
     
  6. kevC

    kevC Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Jul 19, 2007
    Messages:
    7,394
    Likes Received:
    5,114
    I feel very wishy washy about his work ethic. On one hand, it's admirable that he's fighting through pain, on the other hand, he's just trying to get money. Very wishy washy.
     
  7. Nick

    Nick Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Feb 28, 1999
    Messages:
    43,602
    Likes Received:
    8,958
    It would be a mistake.

    If there was a WAR stat in football, Ben Tate would not be one of the better RB's in the league.

    He's even worse considering he's put up average numbers playing in a run-heavy/run-friendly offensive system the last 4 years.

    I'm not sure there is one thing he does that makes him above-average... he's big, not that fast, doesn't have great vision, has had fumbling issues in the past, is not a great receiver, and his blitz pickups leave much to be desired.

    Great backup option to have when your #1 goes down... but he's not somebody a team should be backing up the truck for.
     
  8. vinsensual

    vinsensual Member

    Joined:
    Nov 2, 2008
    Messages:
    8,417
    Likes Received:
    741
    That Cleveland rumor's been out for a while, and they definitely haven't been getting it done with McGahee/Ogbannaya.
    Maybe 1.5 is low, but then I compared to Michael Bush who got 2-2.5 and he definitely had a better season showcasing his talents than Tate did. BGE got 3 years for 9 million in a similar scenario.
     
  9. Commodore

    Commodore Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Dec 15, 2007
    Messages:
    25,279
    Likes Received:
    8,126
    <blockquote class="twitter-tweet"><p>Carry on for the rest of my career thanks Htown for all the support but odds are I won't be back</p>&mdash; Ben Tate (@BenTateRB) <a href="https://twitter.com/BenTateRB/status/417710316957360128" data-datetime="2013-12-30T11:34:34+00:00">December 30, 2013</a></blockquote>
    <script src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>
     
  10. M.G.

    M.G. Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Apr 8, 2013
    Messages:
    915
    Likes Received:
    62
    [​IMG]
     
  11. Dr of Dunk

    Dr of Dunk Clutch Crew

    Joined:
    Aug 27, 1999
    Messages:
    36,831
    Likes Received:
    14,538
    Well, that tweet seemed a bit wishy-washy.
     
  12. sugrlndkid

    sugrlndkid Member

    Joined:
    Apr 22, 2012
    Messages:
    11,438
    Likes Received:
    1,545
    BYE!!!! Mr Fumble...ok RB, but any team that breaks the bank on Ben Tate is gonna quickly figure out that he is a decent back, but wont be a game changer! And btw..he has trouble holding onto the football
     
  13. Major

    Major Member

    Joined:
    Jun 28, 1999
    Messages:
    37,931
    Likes Received:
    9,620
    Unless you're Adrian Peterson, no free agent running back should get big bucks except from his own team. Even guys like McCoy or Charles - there's no telling how good they would be in a different system and with a different line (think Edgerrin James). Their own teams should pay them a fortune, but other teams should not. Outside of that top tier, no running back should ever get paid big dollars. The RBs that are good today aren't likely to be the ones that are good in 3 years, so the odds of getting good value is minimal.
     
  14. K-Low_4_Prez

    K-Low_4_Prez Member

    Joined:
    Dec 25, 2011
    Messages:
    7,397
    Likes Received:
    1,262
    Tate has been one of my favorites he deserves to be the guy somewhere, hopefully he isn't just a system player.
     
  15. tehG l i d e

    tehG l i d e Member

    Joined:
    Feb 17, 2009
    Messages:
    18,541
    Likes Received:
    6,300
    He'll play better on a different team.
     
  16. K-Low_4_Prez

    K-Low_4_Prez Member

    Joined:
    Dec 25, 2011
    Messages:
    7,397
    Likes Received:
    1,262
    I'm not really sure about that I mean we generate some big holes in the run game that other teams only dream about... We made like 6 RBs look good this year just because of the Zone Scheme.

    I'm not saying he won't be good somewhere else but I doubt he will be "better".
     
  17. Brando2101

    Brando2101 Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Apr 20, 2005
    Messages:
    6,159
    Likes Received:
    746
    He's not the primary back here. He wants to go somewhere where he can compete for the top of the depth chart. Also, for a team that isn't the worst in football.
     

Share This Page

  • About ClutchFans

    Since 1996, ClutchFans has been loud and proud covering the Houston Rockets, helping set an industry standard for team fan sites. The forums have been a home for Houston sports fans as well as basketball fanatics around the globe.

  • Support ClutchFans!

    If you find that ClutchFans is a valuable resource for you, please consider becoming a Supporting Member. Supporting Members can upload photos and attachments directly to their posts, customize their user title and more. Gold Supporters see zero ads!


    Upgrade Now