Why didnt anybody come out and say exactly what was wrong with Jeremy Maclin?
Because nobody was quite sure.
Eagles trainer Rick Burkholder said Wednesday night that although doctors still dont know exactly what caused Maclin to experience fever, loss of appetite, weight loss and have trouble sleeping through the spring and summer, doctors are now confident that it was nothing serious.
Burkholder said Maclins symptoms have been gone for at least a month and said barring a setback he should be able to return to practice in seven to 10 days and should also be available to play against the Rams on opening day on Sept. 11 in his hometown of St. Louis.
Maclin, the Eagles 23-year-old third-year wide receiver, has not practiced this preseason.
Burkholder said Maclins ordeal was difficult because even after five months of tests, doctors were unable to determine the cause of his symptoms and the cause of what he said were abnormal blood tests.
So doctors had to eliminate everything serious until there was nothing left.
He said Maclin was tested for HIV and numerous other diseases.
A breakthrough came when Maclin underwent a laproscopic procedure last Thursday. That test which is essentially an arthroscopy in a patients abdomen provided doctors with a more detailed, more exhaustive biopsy than those previously taken.
When the final set of results from that test came back negative on Wednesday, Maclin was cleared to return to football. Burkholder said Maclin asked team officials not to comment on his condition until he was cleared.
Burkholder said he believes one lymph was removed during the surgery, but he said that was only for the purpose of study.
He doesnt have lymphoma, doesnt have Hodgkins, he doesnt have cancer, Burkholder said in a conference call from Pittsburgh, where the Eagles face the Steelers in a preseason game Thursday evening. Were confident that what he has is not life-threatening, and hes able to play football with out problems.
Maclin is one of the NFLs most productive young wide receivers, with 125 catches for 1,726 yards and 17 touchdown catches in two seasons. Last year, he ranked seventh in the NFL with 10 TD receptions and came 36 yards short of 1,000 yards.
First and foremost, I want everyone to know Im fine, Im healthy, Maclin told Foxsports.com. I was tested for everything and every single test came back negative. I dont have mono, I dont have AIDS, leukemia. All the things people were guessing on, there was nothing. I was being tested for lymphoma and thank God everything has come back negative.
I wanted my privacy on this until I had answers. I dont like to talk unless I have all the answers about what Im talking about. It was frustrating to hear all the rumors about me. It wasnt until this morning that I finally got my final answer, and thankfully Im healthy and ready to return to football.
Complicating matters, Burkholder and other team officials were not allowed to speak with Maclin during the lockout, and Burkholder said that may have slowed down the testing and diagnosing process.
Team physician Gary Dorshimer was permitted to treat Maclin during the 136-day lockout, from mid-March through late July. Maclin also had a medical team in St. Louis.
Burkholder said Maclin underwent every imaginable test and all were inconclusive.
You do tests to rule out things and it becomes vague and it becomes frustrating for the patient and it becomes frustrating for the doctors and it keeps the trainer and the doctors up at night because we couldnt put our finger on it, Burkholder said. It was inconclusive evidence.
Maclin did not accompany the Eagles to Pittsburgh. Burkholder said hell probably rejoin the team at the NovaCare Complex on Friday or Saturday, although thats still up in the air.
He's one of my best friends on the team, LeSean McCoy said on the Eagles web site. I'm happy he's on board and doing fine.
Although he was at Lehigh for a week, Maclin did not practice during training camp, which ended Tuesday. For now, hes on the Reserve-Non-Football-Related-Illness.
Maclin told Foxsports.com that he learned back in the spring that tests indicated he may have lymphoma, cancer of the lymphatic cells in the immune system.
Thats nothing anyone ever wants to hear, Maclin said. Thats a hard time the thought that at any given time you can get that call that they found cancer. It was eating away at me and it was hard for me to hide. I wanted to keep it private until I knew for sure what was going on and the Eagles were amazing. They were one of the only ones who knew. My relationship with them is more than professional. They were like family during this.
That first day when the doctor sat me down and explained to me exactly what lymphoma is, that its a form of cancer, it hit me when I walked out of his office and I broke down. It was hard for me but I had to remain positive.
The crazy part was I put weight back on, I was working out, running routes. I felt fine but the thought was always in the back of my mind that I could have cancer."
E-mail Reuben Frank at firstname.lastname@example.org