The degenerative condition in guard Ron Leary’s left knee that could potentially cut his career short, according to doctors, is called osteochondritis dissecans.
It is commonly known as OCD and is a condition in which the bone that supports the cartilage of a joint softens. This softening is caused by an interruption in the blood flow to that portion of bone. Over time, if left untreated, this can lead to damage to the overlying cartilage of the joint. Loose pieces of bone and cartilage can even break off into joint. Long term ramifications may even include arthritis.
According to the OCD Study Group of America, it can sometimes happen in association with ligament injuries.
Not coincidentally, Leary underwent surgery last May to repair a torn meniscus in his left knee. He recovered fine and didn’t miss any games at Memphis last year.
But because of the surgery, his knee was given a full workout of tests and scans at the scouting combine in February and that’s when the OCD was discovered to the surprise of Leary.
Once considered a middle round pick who could possible go as high as the second round, he was now deemed to much of a risk to draft. Although he is healthy enough to play now, the condition has raised doubts about his ability to play long term in the NFL.
A disappointed Leary fielded calls from a number of team’s during the draft about their interest in signing him as a free agent but there was one trumped all. When Cowboys owner Jerry Jones called Leary said he told his agent he wanted to come to Dallas.
"[I was] disappointed because [you] always want to go higher," Leary said of his draft status. "I got a chance to be a Dallas Cowboy, you can't be disappointed by that. It's the greatest organization in the NFL, it didn’t happen the way I wanted it too but I'm loving it."