Johnny Knox: 'I'm pressing forward'


Whether through Twitter or email, Chicago Bears fans often ask what's going on with former receiver Johnny Knox, who suffered a horrific career-ending back injury during a 2011 loss to the Seattle Seahawks.

Well, now you can find out by checking out this "Inside the Bears" feature on Knox on the team's official website.

"I feel good. I'm standing, that's the main thing," Knox said. "It could be worse than it is now. But for me to be able to walk after an injury like that, that's big. I'm pressing forward. I can't worry about the past. I've just got to keep looking forward for me, my family, my kids. That's what it's about."

Knox suffered the injury at Soldier Field on a devastating hit from defensive end Anthony Hargrove that bent the receiver back at an awkward angle. Catching a ball over the middle, Knox attempted to turn up the field, but safety Kam Chancellor knocked the ball loose.

As Knox turned back to pounce on his fumble, Hargrove dove for the ball, causing a vicious collision that left the receiver lying on the grass writhing in pain for several minutes.

Knox underwent spinal fusion surgery to stabilize his fractured vertebra on Dec. 19, 2011, and the initial prognosis was it would take approximately six months just for him to recover enough to begin rehabilitation for a return to the football field. However, the injury was more severe than originally anticipated, and it was later discovered Knox suffered some nerve damage.

Knox said he never heard from Hargrove after the hit, but could tell in the immediate aftermath the defensive end was genuinely concerned. Knox said he did receive a message from Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch.

"I was in the hospital, but I didn't have my phone on me," Knox said. "[Lynch] left a message to see how I was doing, to try to see if I was OK. That also meant a lot to me."

Knox started in 27 of 45 games from 2009-11 with the Bears, catching 133 passes for 2,214 yards and 12 touchdowns, before the club on Feb. 13, 2013 terminated the receiver's contract. Knox was in the final year of his deal and received $1.26 million despite spending the entire 2012 season on the physically unable to perform list.

Knox worked diligently to rehabilitate, but never recovered sufficiently enough to make a return to the team. Multiple sources at the time expressed doubt Knox would ever return to form given the severity of his injury.

Knox announced he was retiring a day after the team terminated his contract.