Lewis Cine has not lived up to expectations since being drafted by the Minnesota Vikings in 2022. Though fans call him a bust, that tag is not accurate in his case.
There is no denying that Minnesota Vikings safety Lewis Cine has been disappointing as a player since being drafted in the first round of the 2022 NFL Draft.
Cine's shortcomings have only been amplified by the massive success that Baltimore Ravens safety Kyle Hamilton has experienced in the last two seasons, as many believed the Vikings should have drafted Hamilton when they had the chance before opting to trade back in the first round and draft Cine.
Cine was a solid prospect going into the 2022 draft, but Minnesota passing on the highly regarded Hamilton is where the disapproval of Cine from Vikings fans began.
Things haven't played out great since then for Cine, and many Minnesota fans are already calling him a bust after his second season in the NFL.
While his tenure with the Vikings has been a letdown so far, the term "bust" is something that shouldn't apply to him, and there are a few reasons why.
Reason No. 1
His career-altering leg injury
In Week 4 of Cine's rookie season, disaster struck for the young safety.
He was working on special teams when he suffered a gruesome compound fracture to his lower left leg. The injury required multiple surgeries, and it prematurely cut Cine's rookie season short.
This injury was incredibly severe for Cine and a total freak accident that could have happened to anyone at any time.
While he has had ample time to rehab and recover, the somber reality is that this injury will stunt the remainder of his career.
It is truly a career-altering injury, and it's one that some players never fully recover from.
This kind of lower-body injury and the recovery process was brought to light recently by NBA player Paul George on his "Podcast P with Paul George" podcast.
George notoriously suffered a similarly terrible injury to Cine, where he suffered a compound fracture in his lower right leg back in 2014.
During a recent episode of his podcast, fellow NBA player Gordon Hayward was the show's special guest, and he is someone who has also suffered an awful lower-body injury during his pro career, though it was different than Cine's and George's.
During the episode, George and Hayward discussed their lower-body injuries and the extreme toll that rehabbing takes on both your body and your mind.
While they discussed the hardships of their injuries, the most telling quote from the conversation came from George when he said the following.
"After that injury, I never felt I was the same... I never was quite able to get back what I lost. I do think I lost a step."
Hayward agreed and then added this sentiment to the discussion
"You're not the same player when you go through an injury like that. Your body is never going to be the same."
These two top-end athletes both agree that your body is forever changed due to an injury similar to what Cine endured.
George and Hayward both needed ample time to get back to a place that felt normal to them, but even then, after 10 years for George and seven years for Hayward, their bodies have never been back to what they were before they were injured.
Cine is less than two years removed from his gruesome injury. and while he will never be the same player that was drafted in 2022, it has become apparent that his 2023 season was rough for him.
Just a year removed from his injury, it's clear that he needed this season to continue to try and get his body and mind back in a good place.
Vikings fans need to cut Cine some slack after his injury. It could have happened to anyone, and now he is fighting to get his body back in a place where he can feel as normal as he can.
Enduring the grueling rehab process so early in his career can't be easy by any means, so Minnesota needs to support him as much as they can.