January 12, 2024

Hogan: Gittens Rehab Going Well

It was not the way Kurleigh Gittens Jr. expected to celebrate his birthday.

The talented Toronto Argonauts receiver spent his 26th lap around the sun undergoing an operation to mend a hip injury suffered in a game against Montreal at BMO Field on September 9. Eleven days after he was injured, he was in surgery.

Gittens spoke with Argonauts.ca while visiting his mother in Guyana, the country where he was born and spent the first seven years of his life.

He vividly recalled the play that the injury occurred.

“It’s a play we probably run two or three time a game,” he explained. “I get the ball; I saw I was past the first down marker. I saw a cluster (of defenders) and I decided I’d get down and live to see another play, and then as I was going down one of Montreal’s defensive linemen was pursuing from the back. As I was falling to the grass, he forced my weight down and his weight went on top of my back and all of the pressure went into my right leg.”

At the time it didn’t appear to be as serious as it turned out to be.

“I got up, I didn’t really think too much of it,” recalled the receiver. “I got up and I was limping. I actually got back in the game for a few plays. I told myself that we were ahead, there’s no point in me pushing it.”

Gittens would take himself out of the game and enjoy the win, going to bed that night fully expecting to be in the lineup for the return contest the following week in Montreal.

“The next day I woke up and I could barely move the hip. I couldn’t even really walk. I got an x-ray, and they found a little fracture.”

Technically, Gittens had suffered an acetabular fracture, a break in the socket portion of the ball and socket hip joint.

“I thought I could give it time, it would heal up and I’d be back for the playoffs, but after getting a second opinion from a hip specialist, he said the best route was surgery. My season was done. I didn’t want to do the surgery because it meant my season was done, but getting the surgery was better for my future.”

After his not so pleasant birthday present, Gittens was not allowed to put weight on the hip for six weeks, meaning he was under bed rest for a month and a half. After a checkup and a green light from the doctor he was able to go back to BMO Field and attend a practice to give his teammates encouragement before the Eastern Final.

In early December he was given the okay to start fully training again. He’s working on his mechanics; running, lifting weights, jumping, squats, “The normal stuff,” according to the receiver.

It’s all in attempt to build up strength and mobility and be 100% ready when training camp opens this May in Guelph. Gittens says his recovery is going “Better than the doctor expected.”

That was great news for Laurier product. Not only has he been able to start the physical process of returning to the field, but it was a major boost to him mentally.

“I knew I loved football, but when this happened to me it told me that I really, really, really love the game of football. Not just playing football, but just being with the guys. Not being there for those eight weeks was one of the worst things. Sometimes in life you take things for granted, I really can’t take this (playing football) for granted. I’m blessed and thankful to be doing this.”

Gittens is exceptionally good at his job. In 2022 he was the runner-up for the CFL’s Most Outstanding Canadian Award after catching 81 passes for 1,101 yards. His numbers were not up to that standard to begin the 2023 season, but he seemed to finally be on the same page as quarterback Chad Kelly as he caught 13 passes in the two games preceding the injury.

He’s ready to pick up where the pair left off.

“This will be our third year together, second playing, and I’m excited.”

As are Argo fans, eager for the return of one of their favourite players.