Today’s post was inspired by three events:
1. The horrific knee injury suffered by South Carolina’s Marcus Lattimore when he was tackled in the Gamecocks’ game against the Tennessee Volunteers over the weekend.
3. Being trapped indoors by Hurricane Sandy
In honor of these three things (the third just making me morose and antsy), I decided to present some of the most gruesome injuries to ever be suffered in professional football. So, a word of warning: VIEWER DISCRETION ADVISED. IF YOU HAVE A WEAK CONSTITUTION AND DON’T RESPOND WELL TO SEEING BODY PARTS BENT IN UNNATURAL WAYS, DO NOT WATCH THE VIDEOS IN THIS POST!
Also, a personal caveat: I don’t believe that we should glorify violence in football and I don’t intend to do that here. Please consider these to be cautionary tales (and inspiration in those cases where the player bounced back to continue his career). In fact, you’ll notice that several of the injuries occurred with hits that were not terribly violent--just a stuck foot or poorly angled foot plant. These injuries also serve as a nice contrast to the staged nature of Halloween, to illustrate examples of true horror.
For those of you still with me, here we go. For each injury, we have a video, the diagnosis of the injury and the aftermath for the injured player.*
The rest of the injuries in this post occurred in the NFL, but I first wanted to show you the injury to running back Marcus Lattimore (#21) in case you missed it:
THE DIAGNOSIS: Broken right femur and patella, all ligaments in knee torn
THE AFTERMATH: Unknown at this point, but as a junior, he may be able to return to the college game. Marcus was considered a potential draft pick if he chose to leave school after this season, so hopefully he can still pursue the dream of a career in the pros.
TIM KRUMRIE (Bengals #69, trying to tackle Niners back Roger Craig in Super Bowl XXIII, January 22, 1989)
THE DIAGNOSIS: Broken left tibia and fibula
THE AFTERMATH: Played for six more years
(By the way, did you notice that Merlin Olsen was once of the announcers?)
NAPOLEON MCCALLUM (Raiders #41, tackled in a Monday Night Football game against the Niners on September 5, 1994)
THE DIAGNOSIS: Hyperextended left knee, ruptured artery, three torn ligaments, torn calf and hamstring and nerve damage.
THE AFTERMATH: Career-ending injury; McCallum started a computer graphics business in 1996.
I feel horrible for San Francisco’s Ken Norton Jr., who was trapped under McCallum for over a minute.
LEONARD WEAVER (Eagles #47, tackled in game against Green Bay on September 12, 2010)
THE DIAGNOSIS: Torn ACL
THE AFTERMATH: Career-ending injury; Weaver reportedly attended the league’s NFL Broadcast Bootcamp this past summer.
JOHNNY KNOX (Bears #11, tackled in game against Seattle on December 18, 2011)
THE DIAGNOSIS: Injured vertebrae (no paralysis)
THE AFTERMATH: Has yet to return from the injury and is currently on the Bears’ “physically unable to perform” list.
E.J. HENDERSON (Vikings #56, suffered attempting to make a tackle against Arizona on December 6, 2009)
THE DIAGNOSIS: Broken left femur
THE AFTERMATH: Returned for the 2010 season, even making the Pro Bowl; currently a free agent
JOE THEISMANN (Redskins, #7, tackled in a game against the New York Giants on November 18, 1985)
THE DIAGNOSIS: Fractured right tibia and fibula
THE AFTERMATH: Certainly the most famous injury in this post, this was also a career-ending one. Theismann would go on to become an NFL broadcaster and opened a restaurant bearing his name in Alexandria, Virginia. Lawrence Taylor has said that he has never seen the video of his tackle of Theismann, and doesn’t intend to.
*There, of course, have been many other horrific injuries to NFL players over the years, but I couldn’t find videos, at least useful ones, for some. These honorable mentions include: Musa Smith of the Baltimore Ravens, who was injured in a game against the Cowboys; Chris Kuper of the Broncos, injured in a game against the Chiefs; Jets Leon Washington, injured playing against the Raiders; and Redskins kicker Bryan Barker, who was injured playing a Thanksgiving Day game against the Cowboys (I actually remember seeing this one. He took a knee to the face and his nose resembled a pig’s nose because it was jammed upwards).