David Bakhtiari wants you to know what's up

In an exclusive interview with Cheesehead TV, the Packers All Pro left tackle takes Packers fans behind the scenes of a frustrating year. 

David Bakhtiari knows you’re wondering. 

He’s well aware of the frustrations Packers fans felt when it came to his inability to get back on the football field for almost all of 2021.

We all know (or think we know) the story. On December 31, 2020, the five time All Pro tore the ACL in his left knee during practice, which began a long, arduous road of rehabilitation and an attempt to rejoin his teammates as they tried to make another run at a Lombardi Trophy. 

The team started practicing their starting left tackle on October 18th. On November 10th, they activated him off the Physically Unable To Perform list with the hope that he might be able to help the team down the stretch. 

I got the opportunity to chat with David on Tuesday morning about a season spent desperately trying to get back on the field to help his team.

Let’s go back to the initial injury itself. How extensive was it?

Everyone knows I tore my ACL. What people don’t know is that it wasn’t an isolated tear. Any time there’s an ACL there can always be other complications. I had a little bit of my meniscus, which wasn’t a big deal. And I got a little bit of cartilage. There was a lot going on.

I think when we all saw you this past spring and summer, on the sideline doing drill work, you looked incredible. Jumping, running, even doing some cutting. Was trying to play Week 1 ever on the table, prior to your being placed on regular season PUP?

No, Week 1 was never on the table. I think the whole Adrian Peterson thing has skewed people’s perceptions. Talking to the doctors, potentially could it happen, coming back that quickly? Sure. But you’re probably going to be in extreme discomfort and you’re going to be compensating a lot. For example, AP had a lot of hip issues because he was compensating in his hip joint because he wasn’t able to work on his knee. 

So you’re on PUP and working to get back. They take you off of PUP on Nov. 10th, you’re listed as a Limited participant in that first practice of Seahawks week. How are you feeling?  

I’m roughly eight, nine months in at this point. My right leg is definitely a bit stronger than my left leg, but I’ve never been through this before, so I just figured this is my new normal for now. But I didn’t like at all how I felt. 

I was sitting at about 30 to 35 ccs (cubic centimeters) of fluid in my knee. This is where I’m going to educate you guys, for bigger guys you’re going to carry more fluid in your knee. Bryan (Bulaga) was in the 20-30 range, I was a bit higher. 

The only way I can describe it, it was like I had a water balloon in my knee. When you bend it, it shoots out everywhere, and the problem with that is it basically shuts off. Fluid gets into places. It’s just uncomfortable. 

So I’m practicing, I’m trying to be very positive about what’s going on but I’m thinking ‘Something’s definitely going on with my knee.’ I’m doing stretch and I can barely fucking bend it. I’m trying not to admit that it’s probably a little more swollen than yesterday but I’m like ‘Yeah, no big deal.’ I’m practicing and I can barely move around. Next thing you know I say ‘Nope, I’m done. I can’t do this.’ 

We ended up draining it. I’d been draining it for a while. I know it’s not the best thing, repeatedly going into your knee. To be clear, it was my choice, because I just wanted to play. But I must have done it around 15 times throughout the season.

We drained it that week, I had 96 ccs of fluid in my knee. To give you an idea, that’s a little bit less than four ounces of fluid in my knee. So there’s obviously an issue.

We scan it, and ended up finding that I ripped up some cartialidge in a new spot. 

How was Dr. McKenzie through all this? 

Doc made it very clear - I’m not going to put you out there and let you do anything that’s going to impact you long term. We want you for three years, not three games. 

It’s just tough when the answer is the one answer you don’t want to hear: Don’t play football for a while. 

I was so pissed off. I wanted my MRI sent to ElAttrache. (Editors note: Dr. Neal ElAttrache is an orthopaedic surgeon and Head Team Physician for the Los Angeles Dodgers and the Los Angeles Rams) I’m going into McKenzie’s office almost every day saying “What the fuck is going on?”

How was McKenzie with the idea of you getting a second opinion? 

He’s great. If anything, it’s better to get another set of eyes on it, potentially get another perspective on it, maybe see something different. But they both saw the same thing, a joint that is inflamed and that shouldn’t be playing football.

That’s the toughest thing, the one answer you don’t want to hear is the one you get: Don’t play football. That sucks. 

So you end up having a new scope on November 18th.

So we went in with the scope and I had a little defect in my trochlear groove, they cut that and smoothed that out while they were in there. 

I was also complaining constantly about this lateral side of my knee, I had this huge scar tissue band that was restricting me, so they cut that. Behind my knee on the fat pad I had a scar tissue that was rubbing on the cartilage which ended up ripping a little bit of that cartilage and they cut that out. After all that, I feel so much better. 

Now it feels a lot better, but now the issue is that I didn’t get over my first surgery and now I’ve had two surgerys in a calendar year. I’ve got bruising all over my knee. 

Do you arrive at a point where you decide you just have to live with it to get back on the field?

Well, about three weeks later, I don’t want to get too specific but I had another intervention because I didn’t like how my knee was responding and I’d done other things in the past that make it respond better so I went and did that. 

That’s when I had a huge uptick in my knee. I feel good, I don’t feel like myself, but I feel good. 

So the week of Detroit, I’m feeling good. I hadn’t gotten back to the 33ccs of fluid. That 20-30 is your money zone. I’m probably sitting at 50-60ccs. I got a lot of things going on with my body to help with the inflamation. 

I presume the coaching staff wants to see you in a game prior to the playoffs?

I mean, I’m hearing mumblings around the building of people wanting to see me in a game. I can tell coaches want to get me out there. I’m like ‘You guys really want to see me in a game, I get it. If you feel uncomfortable with me in a playoff game, sure, I get it. I’m just trying to make sure my knee feels as good as possible.’

Four or five days after the Detroit game, we end up pulling 88 ccs out. I’m like “This is a fucking nightmare. This thing won’t end.” 

You have to be at your wits end at this point, having worked so hard all year, the playoffs are here and you’re basically nowhere nearer to moving past this fluid issue. 

I just need to turn off the car and let it sit. 

The only answer I got, you had two surgeries in a calendar year and things are so inflamed and so angry that every time you start pushing the fluid it just ignites the whole area. 

Structurally I’m good. I know its fine, that’s why no one ever saw me with a knee brace. There’s no mental hurdle I’m trying to get over. It’s just ‘Can the fucking thing work?’ 

People don’t understand the fluid thing. Talk to any nurse or doctor. I had one nurse tell me ‘That’s the most fluid I’ve ever pulled out of someone’s knee.’ and I’m like ‘Thank you?’

If we can go back for a moment, you mentioned the mumblings around the building. Did you ever feel pressure from anyone in the organization, personnel or the coaching staff, to get back out on the field before you were ready?

No pressure from the third floor. No pressure from doc. You just feel pressure as the season goes on. You think to yourself ‘This is long enough, let’s just go. Maybe my knee will accept where my head is at.’

I mean, you think I want to miss a whole season? I want to play with the guys. The biggest thing I realized is how much I actually care about the game. I really am that loser football dude who loves football. 

Do you have any concerns with the knee, long term going forward? 

No. The hurdle you want to get over is having a full recovery from an ACL. I know my ACL is good. My meniscus is good, they cut out like 10-15 percent of it. It’s just my knee needing rest. Structurally it’s good. Just need to take this time off. 

You’ve got to be jonesing to get back out on a football field, playing the game you love. 

I can’t wait to be so sore and in pain, sitting in a huddle next year, looking over at the country club guys on the sideline, and being like - I wouldn’t trade any of this soreness or this pain to be over there, feeling great but having one issue that stops me from being on the field. There’s something to the camaraderie where everyone is in pain, everyone is sore. But you know what? Yeah, it does all suck but fuck it we’re together so let’s do this thing.

 
41 points

Comments (41)

Fan-Friendly This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.
SteelyPhil's picture

January 25, 2022 at 06:41 pm

Great interview - really unfortunate for Bakhtiari and the Packers as a whole. His presence was definitely missed but clearly 69 at LT wasn't meant to be this year.

12 points
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stockholder's picture

January 25, 2022 at 06:42 pm

We can't wait for you now. There are other players that have to be paid. Thank You. Wish you the best.

-21 points
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Tylerfrom920's picture

January 25, 2022 at 07:01 pm

I feel this to a certain degree. However, the packers are a better team with 69 holding down the blind side. I certainly understand the frustration. We’ll have to hope his knee holds up.

1 points
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dblbogey's picture

January 25, 2022 at 09:39 pm

That's the question, will he ever be really healthy. I hope for the best, he's a leader on this team.

1 points
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ApplesAndTons's picture

January 25, 2022 at 09:43 pm

Completely agree. This guy ain't a trooper. He'll never have it. Good riddance.

-18 points
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WestCoastPackerBacker's picture

January 25, 2022 at 10:19 pm

You're not a trooper. You don't have the heart to support a player who has given his all; has gone far beyond his draft status, has elevated his game each year and then gets injured. Injuries are a part of football. Some times you can play through them. Some times you can't. His cap hit is such that he WILL be a GBP next season, and if he's a Packer, he's our guy.

8 points
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TheNumber1PackerFan's picture

January 26, 2022 at 08:34 am

You dont play football. You probably are driking so much beer and eating so much pizza that you can't see your freaking feet past your belly. You dont know what a trooper is in this sport because you dont fn play it! Be a fan not an asshole.

3 points
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dobber's picture

January 25, 2022 at 10:17 pm

Wait. What?

The Packers can do nothing BUT wait. His salary cap hit is destructive to let him go or act on him with anything but a Jun 1 designation. Even then, his cap hit is essentially the same as if they retained him for 2022. That means his situation changes almost nothing about their ability to pay guys in 2022...so why can they not wait? By then they'll know something more about his knee and his situation. Virtually nothing to lose, and a quality player to gain.

12 points
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MarkinMadison's picture

January 26, 2022 at 08:22 am

Spot on Dobber. Bakh may be the best LT I've ever seen play for the Packers. Even with that f'd up knee his jump set against Detroit was just beautiful. Anyone questioning this man's heart or mental fitness is a dope. You can argue the Packers invested too much in a player of his age, but they have made that investment and there is nothing to do but ride it out now. And, oh, by the way, he might still be the best LT in the NFL next year. So there is that.

2 points
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TheNumber1PackerFan's picture

January 26, 2022 at 08:32 am

Very smart response, thank you for making sense.

-1 points
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stockholder's picture

January 26, 2022 at 08:44 am

His Age. He may never play to his All-Pro Level again. And you don't know the Fine print on his contract. If Nick Perry got cut. Daniels got cut. The Writing is on the wall. Wait? WE have others that won't wait.

-2 points
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dobber's picture

January 26, 2022 at 01:21 pm

God, you're dumb as a post.

0 points
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TXCHEESE's picture

January 26, 2022 at 10:59 am

Uhm, he's already paid. If you've ever had an ACL repaired or any other significant surgery...joint replacement etc., it takes a good year just to get it back to "normal". These guys ain't normal, they're professional athletes. Asking for a big guy to get back to original strength in a year is asking a lot. He is right, structurally he is probably good, it's the tissue, and surrounding ligaments, tendons etc. that need to heal.

0 points
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CStoney26's picture

January 25, 2022 at 06:51 pm

Great insight. I’ve had 3 knee surgeries including 2 Acls. All that fluid is a crazy amount and make so much sense why we haven’t seen him. Hope he gets to rest up and get everything back to normal as possible come camp.

8 points
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Spock's picture

January 26, 2022 at 09:43 am

Damnit, chtv, logged me out due to "inactivity" while I was typing this response (I'm a slow typer), so here goes:
CS26, I've had eight (8!) knee surgeries on the same knee (left) and know EXACTLY what Bahk and you are talking about! Prior to having my kneecap removed (5th or 6th surgery) my knee would swell up like a softball and I was icing it every 4 hours and taking 800 ml of Ibuprofen every 4 hours too. I've had my knee drained 3 or 4 times and it is definitely painful and you risk infection each time. Fortunately, a friend of my wife had a daughter that was selling a product made overseas that is all natural and, being desperate, I gave it a try not really expecting anything. Within two weeks all the swelling went down and I took the stuff for 10 years before it seemed to lose effectiveness -but those were 10 pretty good years! I went from walking with a cane to riding a bike within a month (w/o a kneecap) and now I am back to a cane. I just think my body eventually got used to it and it lost effectiveness. I still have swelling, but nowhere near what I used to. Anyways, what I used had a combination of extracts of: pine bark, red wine, and grape seed. The one I took (its a powder mixed in water) was called OPC-3 but there are others out there maybe Bahk could give it a try.

Edit: These days I get a 3 course injection Supartz (or something like that) to fill in/replace the natural fluid of the knee. I do this every 6-8 months. It's not cortezone, but more like WD-40 for the knee, lol. Helps a lot with swelling as well. Okay, so much for my "Doctor" information, I was going to say "Doctor Spock" but he was the idiot who, IMHO, turned generations of pampered children into "Participation trophy, me first, people". Sigh.

-1 points
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RedRight49's picture

January 25, 2022 at 07:28 pm

That was quite an insightful and fact filled interview, about as blunt and honest an interview as I've read from any player.

Bakhtiari always played like a guy who gave 100% on every play and it must have been truly agonizing for him not to be able to suit up and man his place in the trenches.

Great line from the Doc , " We want you for three years, not three games ".

While all Packer fans wanted him back in the huddle, after reading the depth and gravity of his knee issues we understand why this great tackle was kept out of this season's line - ups.

Sure hope this great All Pro is back on the field this upcoming season and thanks for such an open discussion of the knee issues.

9 points
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3
Sharkman2610's picture

January 25, 2022 at 07:02 pm

Great interview. We weren’t hearing anything about why he wasn’t playing. Hopefully he is ready to go next season.

10 points
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Alphadork's picture

January 25, 2022 at 07:25 pm

Great interview - and really nice that he's willing to talk openly about all of the issues with his knee and his surgeries. His candor is refreshing - if entirely unnecessary. It's not any of our business, ultimately, but it's nice to know.

9 points
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Rossonero's picture

January 25, 2022 at 07:57 pm

Great interview. I was wondering what was wrong with his knee, but this all makes sense now. The mental aspect of a physical injury is huge. I bet it was torture to watch the Niners playoff loss from the sideline.

My main concern going forward is, when training camp starts, will his knee be able to handle it? Or will it just flare up again? Modern medicine has come a very long way, but sadly, not everyone recovers from ACL tears.

2 points
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WestCoastPackerBacker's picture

January 25, 2022 at 10:20 pm

How is it possible to know how his knee will be after 6 months of healing?

0 points
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RCPackerFan's picture

January 25, 2022 at 08:05 pm

Great interview!

I'm really looking forward to getting Bakhtiari back at LT. Jenkins played really well at LT, but the combination of Bakhtiari and Jenkins is better then any other combination on the left side in the NFL. What is crazy to think about is how well Jenkins played at LT. And after that how well Yosh played there.

I'm really looking forward to seeing what our OL looks like next year. Bakhtiari, Jenkins, Myers, Runyan/Patrick/Newman, Turner. They have a lot of flexibility as well. It will be interesting to see how Van Lanen maybe fits in next year as well and who they draft.

But if we can get 2 of our All Pros back, that greatly improves out OL in the run game and passing game!

7 points
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dblbogey's picture

January 25, 2022 at 09:44 pm

Sadly, optimistically Jenkins will miss 6-8 weeks himself with the same ACL tear Bakh is still struggling with. Injuries are by far the worst part of the game for fans. and have to be devastating for the player.

4 points
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Wilment's picture

January 25, 2022 at 08:13 pm

Im a pretty big guy, and theres no describing what its like to be playing a sport{I played lacross and ice hockey), and having a bad wheel that wont heal up. I know the fans were wanting him out there, and wanting the front office to go into more detail to satisfy their curiosity, but boys and girls, thats called a HIPA violation when an employer discloses a medical conditon without your say so. So, everyone take a deep breath and wait till the spring and you will see him back. GOPACKGO

3 points
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Packers0808's picture

January 25, 2022 at 08:17 pm

Long term health is more important than a game! I hope he heals correctly and can play as great going forward as he did before!

6 points
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SterlingSharpe's picture

January 25, 2022 at 08:44 pm

Thanks.
A fuqing "walk-thru", unpadded practice.
It cost us him in both playoff losses. The best LT in the NFL & an unpadded walk-thru costs us 2 seasons.

-4 points
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dblbogey's picture

January 25, 2022 at 09:46 pm

Poo poo occurs.

2 points
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Ferrari-Driver's picture

January 25, 2022 at 08:55 pm

That was simply a tremendous read and thanks for putting it out there for us to read.
I am really impressed with Bakhtiari and the way he told us about his rehab. I certainly hope he has a full recovery and a long Packer career.

9 points
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greengold's picture

January 25, 2022 at 09:23 pm

Well done, Aaron! Great interview, and damn. I can imagine that pain, on so many levels. Hoping David has a full recovery.

7 points
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NitschkeFromTheGrave's picture

January 25, 2022 at 09:31 pm

Been there, done that.
Twice....

3 points
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Philarod's picture

January 25, 2022 at 09:41 pm

Thanks, Aaron, for bringing us this revealing interview.

6 points
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ApplesAndTons's picture

January 25, 2022 at 09:47 pm

This isn't news. He mentioned this the other day and even alluded to it on Rich Eisen. Barely anything was added. Nagler gets leftover scraps again. Ah well

-12 points
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12.5
WestCoastPackerBacker's picture

January 25, 2022 at 10:21 pm

Since you don't like it here, why not spend your time somewhere else?

6 points
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Harold Drake's picture

January 26, 2022 at 01:57 am

I would want to know why the Packers decided to play Bakhtiari in Detroit when they were still draining 50-60 ccs of fluid from his knee. On the surface, that doesn't seem to be a sound decision either from a medical or a team perspective. In retrospective, better to have rested him another week and then have him practice in the days leading up to the game against the Niners. But it would be interesting to know MLF's or the team physician's thinking...

2 points
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Doug_In_Sandpoint's picture

January 26, 2022 at 04:48 am

Great stuff Aaron. Now, in the “what have you done for us lately” vein, do the same interview with Jenkins. I haven’t heard a thing about his progress.

0 points
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Jnixman's picture

January 26, 2022 at 07:10 am

So glad Bakhtiari felt comfortable clearing the air. Organizations always like to keep silent on these matters, understandably, but it leaves fans to wonder. We all know 69 was doing all he could to get on the field. His knee just wasn’t ready.
I appreciate the Packers conservative injury approach. These guys have a lot of life to lead after the game. Looking forward to having him healthy and back on post.

1 points
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KnockTheSnotOutOfYou's picture

January 26, 2022 at 07:39 am

Great article!

With Bachtiari making tens of millions of dollars (whatever it is) I do not feel sorry for him or any other football player. I do however understand his frustration being a competitor and wanting to be on the field helping his teammates out.

In hindsight it is obvious his resigning was a colossal mistake. There was no way the Packers front office could have known. All I know while a very unfortunate injury this injury 'possibly' may have kept the Packers from winning one or maybe even two SB's. Both Tampa and the 49's defensive lines dominated the Packers offensive line throwing Rodgers off. His injury will always be overlooked by reporters and historians. Just a sad unfortunate situation.

I am glad Bachtiari is doing well and certainly hope he recovers (Jenkins as well) for 2022.

-4 points
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MarkinMadison's picture

January 26, 2022 at 08:24 am

Mr. Bakhtiari,

Thank you for all you have done. Thank you for all you will do. Thank you for sharing. Forgive some of the idiot posts here. Hope to hear from you again in the future.

0 points
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ImFubared's picture

January 26, 2022 at 10:41 am

Maybe he should pack it in and not try to emulate Brian Beluga who never really came back, one injury after another for him and I see the same or worse with batk. Too bad but you destroy you knee its not a fender on a car you just replace.

1 points
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Dragon5's picture

January 26, 2022 at 01:47 pm

FOOLS!!!

<<Dragon5
January 10, 2022 at 05:00 pm

Kid gloves with...

Bahk as he finishes up his enemy year (OX) thru Jan 31st

Dragon5

March 25, 2021 at 06:14 pm
"David Bahktiari (GOAT)...concern is instead of sitting out '21, they rush him back and lose not 1 year, but the rest of his career"

Dragon5
January 29, 2021 at 06:29 pm

"BAHK (GOAT)--ACL just prior enemy year, high odds recovery complications, let him recover on IR, out for 2021"

Dragon5
September 12, 2020 at 04:06 pm

The worst thing Gute can do to mess this up is to re-up Bahktiari in Bahk's enemy year.>>

0 points
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brejensen's picture

January 26, 2022 at 02:03 pm

Excellent interview

1 points
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jcod3's picture

January 27, 2022 at 09:39 am

Great interview Nags! Knees are tricky things for sure. Thanks

0 points
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