WILMINGTON, NC (WECT) – It was supposed to be a charity basketball game for the Wilmington Police Recreation Association, but for Wilmington native and Tampa Bay Buccaneers kicker Connor Barth it because a nightmare.
"It was going to be just another day," explained Barth. "I played in the game the year before."
During the game Barth tore his right Achilles tendon. The injury happening just weeks before training camp was schedule to open.
"As soon as I got stepped on, or whatever happened with my Achilles, I knew it was bad," Barth recalled. "I was pretty much hoping and praying everything was going to be ok."
Connor says the moments after the injury are still a blur. His dad Tom Barth went to the aid of his son, and knew it wasn't good.
"When I went out there he was sitting by himself in the hallway. He said, 'I am out for the season, Dad.' He knew right then and it hit him," said Tom.
Barth wasted little time on his road to recovery once the injury was confirmed after a trip to the hospital.
The following Monday, Connor traveled to Charlotte to have surgery to repair the tear. While everything went well, getting back to his old form would be a slow process.
Connor was in a cast and on crutches for 12 weeks. Unable to put any weight on his foot he couldn't drive, or do the little things to take care of himself. He had to rely on help from his mother, father and brother Casey.
If dealing with the stress of rehabbing an injury wasn't enough Tampa Bay didn't have to pay his full salary for 2013, because it was a non-football related injury.
"We were in the airport in Tampa with him. He had just spoke with the then general manger, and they didn't give him good news about his salary negations," explained Connor's mom, Susan. "He came off the tram and said, 'I just need a few minutes,' and he just lost it. For both of us that was pretty tough. To see that happen was really hard for me, look I am still emotional about it now."
In the end Barth and the team agreed to terms on a 2013 salary, and then renegotiated the final two-years of his contract.
"I worked my butt off to get that new four-year contract, and to see it pulled from under me was pretty tough," said Connor. "That is football, it's life, and it's a business. No one wants a couple of million dollars taken away from them."
Now, seven months removed from the injury, Connor is back on the field kicking -- most recently hitting a field goal from 61-yards.
"If anything, I am working on my form now," said Connor. "So, if anything I will be better than I was before with my accuracy, and focusing on the little things. I always tell my dad that I am not going to miss next year. I am not going to miss because that is what I need to do. I need to prove the point that I am the same guy."
The true test will come in July when Connor heads to training camp with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
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