Detroit Lions Frank Ragnow’s 2022 season has been one of the toughest of his career. After having his 2021 season cut short due to foot surgery, he suffered a very similar injury in the first week of the season. Since then, he has been on the injury report every single week. Throughout the season, he’s been upfront that he’s been battling through pain and discomfort. And on Thursday, a day after he was named to his second Pro Bowl, he talked about the physical and mental road of a crazy season.
“This has been probably the hardest year of my career, besides the year my dad passed,” Ragnow said. “Just it’s a lot to go through. It’s not even the pain for me, it’s just when somethings not working with your body, it’s the confidence, it’s the doubt, it’s all that kind of stuff–the focus–that comes with the pain. And I guess to be able to pursue through all that this year and to be recognized is pretty cool, pretty rewarding.”
Ragnow has pushed through the injury and played at a pretty high level all season. As pointed out the by Lions PR department, he has allowed just a single sack in the past three seasons. On top of that, he has the sixth-highest PFF run blocking grade among all NFL centers (82.1). Despite that, Ragnow believes he’d be playing at a higher level if it weren’t for the injury.
“I definitely don’t think I’ve been the player that I should be or can be,” Ragnow said. “But I just go back to hard work, just kinda knowing what to do, where to be and finding ways to manipulate and get the job done. Even if it’s not as pretty as it could be.”
Despite Ragnow literally calling this season one of the toughest of his career, he also thinks it’s been one of the most fun, due to the Lions’ current 6-1 streak.
“Seven games is the most in my career, so to be part of that, be part of that feeling like we’re going to win this game, at the end of games too, especially, is cool,” Ragnow said. “It’s kind of hard to describe, but it’s a cool feeling and it’s been a heck of a ride so far. Hopefully we can keep it going.”
That dichotomy has been a tough psychological road for Ragnow: the physical and mental anguish of another frustrating injury combined with the elation of a team on the rise. The Lions center admitted that sometimes it results in mixed emotions for him in the locker room.
“There have been times after wins where—I hate to say it— (I’m) just relieved I made it through the game,” Ragnow said. “Thank God for my wife. She’s been there for me a lot. It’s tough, but winning makes it a lot better because losing is brutal.”
The winning helps, but so does the support of his teammates, and there’s nothing closer than an offensive line room.
“They’re my fricken backbone,” Ragnow said. “It’s hard playing through pain, but with those guys kinda supporting me and being there for me–because there’s a lot of shuffling that has to go on when I can’t practice–and for them not batting an eye and stepping up and being nothing but supportive, I’m very grateful for all of those guys.”
And while many fans may not appreciate or care about the Pro Bowl, it clearly means a lot to Ragnow.
“It’s a dream come true, man. It’s incredible. Younger Frank would be going nuts. I try to be cool and mature and all that, but it’s awesome. I was sitting there in the hot tub the other day after I found out and I almost started crying alone in the hot tub, tough look. But I kept it together. It’s special. There aren’t much ways offensive linemen, or really, individuals get recognized in this league. For that to happen, it’s cool.”