It’s hard to describe it. The feeling a WAG gets in the pit of her stomach when her man goes down on the field. Normally he jumps right back up after a tackle. But sometimes, he doesn’t. Sometimes, he lies there a little longer than you know he should. The trainers and team doctors corral around him and…
Veteran RB Reggie Bush is rumored to be suing the city of St. Louis after suffering a season-ending injury at the Edward Jones Dome last week. Bush slipped and fell on a concrete surface surrounding the playing field just one week after Browns’ QB Josh McCown injured his shoulder the same way. “Bush’s suit will likely seek gross negligence given the potential danger of having such a slippery surface abut the playing field,” wrote Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports, “especially considering this was not the first incident of this sort to take place there.”
Having this season-ending injury happen away from football action is an understandably tough pill to swallow for Bush, considering his one-year contract with the 49ers was laden with bonuses. This could also mark the end of his career. Bush, 30, will become a free agent in March.
It’s an all-too familiar reality for so many NFL players and their families. Players begin the season healthy and hopeful only to have it all end in an instant.
There are a few NFL players who remain with their respective teams after suffering a season-ending injury, but many of them do not. Sure, they will stick around their team facilities for treatment after surgeries (which many season-ending injuries require), but the days of being on the sideline with their teammates are over.
It’s something the average fan wouldn’t think about because the NFL life continues without injured players, but it’s a painful reality for players. Oftentimes, the camaraderie with teammates is what they love about being a professional athlete, and all of the sudden that is ripped away.
Thinking of a season-ending injury as it pertains to the current season is one thing, but players and their families have to think about the future. A player’s body is his career, and there are no guarantees he will come back with the same physical ability he had prior to getting hurt.
Ligament injuries may mean a player doesn’t have the same burst he had before, bone injuries may leave a player with pains he didn’t have before, and — potentially the worst threat to a player’s future — teams won’t look at that player the same as they did before.
It’s a scary thing.
It’s easy to look at NFL players and think of them as pawns in Madden, but there are real risks that come along with putting their bodies on the line each and every week. As said before, many season-ending injuries require surgery, which is a big risk in and of itself.
Then comes the long recovery process that includes rest and physical therapy, meaning players with families can do little to contribute toward day-to-day tasks around the house and with children.
Down the Road
Another aspect of these injuries is the lasting effect they have on players as they age. Players finish their careers with mangled fingers, repaired ligaments, and having suffered multiple concussions. They are also dealing with the after-effects of running, tackling, and throwing on injuries that would leave the average person bedridden. In other words, they give a lot to the game.
One NFL alumni, Mike Ditka, has started the Gridiron Greats Assistance Fund to help former players dealing with the lasting effects of injuries. His mission is to help a specific group of former players who aren’t benefitting from the current pension and health insurance of the modern football era.
“The Gridiron Greats Assistance Fund is an organization that is close to my heart for many reasons and after reading more about why we do what we do, I’m sure you’ll feel the same way,” reads Ditka’s quote on the site.
“It took great fans to build the empire that is American Football and it will take great fans that help us overcome the epidemic that is facing our Greats right now.”
You can learn more about the Gridiron Greats Assistance Fund at gridirongreats.org.