The Interviews

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Getting Back In The Game

Denny BrauerEditor's Note: Denny Brauer, 53, of Camdenton, Missouri, has competed professionally for 23 years. He won the BASS Masters Classic in 1988 and has had 61 Top 10 finishes. A long-time avid angler of Strike King Lures, Brauer also has helped Strike King design some of the company's lures.

Question: In 1998, you won the BASS Masters Classic. You were in "Sports Illustrated" and on the "Late Show with David Letterman." Your picture and bio were on the Wheaties Breakfast of Champion's cereal box. You went as high as a fisherman could go and then you hurt your back. Tell me what it has been like coming back from your back injury.

Answer: Getting hurt has been very frustrating. As you can probably tell right now, I'm not too comfortable. I had surgery. I tried to fish with my injured back in several tournaments, but that didn't work. I went in for surgery, but the surgery failed miserably. I had a ruptured lumbar disc. I came out of surgery with a numb foot and a numb leg. The doctors told me it would take a few months for everything to clear up, but it didn't.

Denny BrauerSo the next season, which was 2001, I went in and had another surgery to fuse it. The surgeons tried to fix the area. For about six or seven months, I thought we were moving in the right direction, but in the last three or four months, late spring, 2002, my back got worse. I had a MRI in May, 2002, which really didn't show anything negative. I go in soon to learn if the fusion has collapsed. If that's the case, then I'll have to go back in the hospital and see if I can get it fixed, which I must because I can't stand right now.

Question: Is the pain in your lower back?

Answer: Most of the pain is coming down my leg to my foot. I need to get this taken care of so I can play the game the way I want to play the game of professional bass fishing.

Denny BrauerQuestion: What would you like to do in the fishing industry right now?

Answer: I'd really like to be fishing at 98 percent, but I can't do that right now. I'm competing with guys who are too good. Right now I don't really want to be out there fishing professionally. If someone hasn't ever fished with a bad back, they don't know the pain involved. That was my third back operation. No, this will be the fourth. Hopefully this will be the last one.