20 Injury-Prone NFL Veterans Who Will Crumble in 2013
20 Injury-Prone NFL Veterans Who Will Crumble in 2013
Professional football is a fast and violent sport that is not for the faint of heart nor the feeble of body. But, in the words of Boys II Men, it's just so hard to say goodbye to yesterday. As is the case every year, there is an ever growing list of some of our favorite athletes who have lost a step, lost confidence in themselves, lost the confidence of NFL coaches or have just plain ol' lost their dog-gone minds. Because of the aforementioned losses some players are finding it increasingly difficult to compete at their respective positions, while others are struggling to find a job all together.
The slideshow that I present to you, dear reader, is rife with talent. In fact, most these guys would be a steal for any team five years ago. But this ain't Tecmo Bowl or Madden. This is real life, and unfortunately, some people just don't know when to call it quits. But sometimes it's better to know when to hold them, know when to fold them, know when to walk away and know when to run. Some guys on this list are counting the dollar signs, but perhaps they ought to be thinking about their medical bills. I would imagine there are quite a few NFL veterans out there who wished they would have called it quits a season or two earlier. Though their competitive nature might compel them to do otherwise, spending their retirement years without a limp or walking stick should be an incentive all its own.
20. Willis McGahee
Willis McGahee's list of injuries read like a list of obscure pro sports leagues. He has had injuries to his ACL, MCL and PCL on both knees and has also suffered a cracked rib. McGahee has always been a hard runner and even showed he still had some breakaway speed left in his battered legs as recently as last season. Things were looking swell as he accumulated 731 yards in 10 games, but all of that came to an end when an MRI revealed Willis had a torn medial collateral ligament and a compression fracture in his right knee. McGahee was waived on June 16. Ever the warrior, the 31 year old running back is looking for a job in a crowded backfield near you. Perhaps a folding chair on a secluded beach would be a better idea, but I don't expect that to happen. Old soldiers don't die, they just faaade awaaaay.
19. Charlie Batch
Hold up! Stop everything! You mean to tell me that Charlie Batch hasn't retired yet? I understand the dude has been a model NFL citizen in an age of league wide stupidity, but does that warrant a roster spot? Batch doesn't have anything left to prove. The 38 year-old veteran has two Super Bowl rings in his 14 year NFL career, but it's not just about age with him. He's one of the most mentally tough career backups I have ever seen at the quarterback position, but the smorgasbord of injuries he has suffered over his career are reason enough for this veteran to ride off into the sunset. One more good hit and he might crumble into a pile of bruised protein and calcium.
18. Austin Collie
Austin Collie is yet another example of an NFL player who once had tremendous potential but might have to call it quits for the sake of his long-term health. The one-time Indianapolis Colts wide receiver has a long history of concussions, and when he isn't suffering from one of those debilitating injuries he was suffering from a torn right patella tendon. He's at the point where fewer and fewer teams will be willing to risk giving him a shot. The 49ers might give him a shot because, with the losses of Mario Manningham and Michael Crabtree, they may not have any other choice.
17. Jahvid Best
Unlike many of the other selections I have placed on this dubious list, Jahvid Best isn't an old guy by any stretch of the imagination. But age is only one of several key signs a player needs to hang it up. It just might be for his own good. Best was picked 30th overall by the Detroit Lions in the 2010 NFL Draft. He showed flashes of early brilliance as he demonstrated the ability to be equally dangerous running and catching the ball out of the backfield. But lingering concussion issues have kept him off the field since 2011. With the current NFL stance on concussion awareness it is highly unlikely any team will risk signing Best after he was released by the Lions in July 2013.
16. Troy Polamalu
Troy Polamalu has been something of a freak of nature his entire career. He has combined next level athleticism with cat like reflexes to compile a career that will likely result in him being elected to the Hall of Fame. But the likelihood of that glorious day might move from the distant to near future sooner than he may think given his feral playing style. Troy missed four games in 2009 with a sprained MCL. In 2010 he was nagged by an ankle injury all season long, but only missed two games. He would play the entire season the following year, but missed nine games in 2012. The prognosis for a full season in 2013? It doesn't look good.
15. Plaxico Burress
Is there a need for me to mention Plaxico Burress' gun incident or the two prime years of his NFL career spent languishing in a jail cell? Let's stick to the football facts, shall we? The facts say Burress is a 36-year-old wide receiver who only caught three passes in four games with the Pittsburgh Steelers last year. The facts also tell us that Plaxico recently suffered a season-ending rotator cuff injury. The facts say he would simply be taking up a roster spot from a younger, hungrier and healthier receiver at this point in his career. The facts say Burress should hang it up. I hear gun-locks are a good investment these days.
14. Ben Wood
So, you think NFL center's aren't that important in the grand scheme of things? If so then I think you're a moron. While we're thinking (or not) lets ponder this. Eric Wood is easily one of the best centers in the NFL when he's on the field. Drafted in 2009, Woods broke his leg during that campaign, tore a knee ligament in 2011, and partially tore his MCL the following season. Woods has not played a full season since he was drafted.
13. Fred Jackson
Fred Jackson has only played in 17 of a possible 32 games since 2011. That has to be frustrating for a Buffalo Bills brain trust who can use all the good injury karma they can get. He almost ran for 1,000 yards in 2011 despite only playing 10 games that year, a testament to his potential as a feature back. But be it brittle bones, bad timing or B.S. luck, Jackson hasn't seen nearly as much action as he would like to have. At 32 years old, Fred is considered ancient as far as running backs go. If the Bills are expecting to ever get a full season out of him the 2013 might be that season, or not.
12. Julian Edelman
Julian Edelman is as tough a football player as any wide receiver in the NFL and is renowned for his versatility, having played corner back and returned punts in 2011. But, as tough as he might be, he's made of flesh and blood. Edelman's fearless forays across the middle, and the fact that he has been asked to run the ball on occasion, have taken their toll on his body in the past and with the injuries to WR Danny Amendola, TE Rob Gronkowski and the horror story that is Aaron Hernandez, Edelman has become Tom Brady's No. 1 target overnight. I just don't think his body will hold. Though he may have an iron will he's still only flesh and blood.
11. Randy Moss
Randy Moss has been engaged in his fair share of tomfoolery throughout his NFL career, but for the most part all of his antics took place off the field and away from team facilities. Even if teams were to take his prior transgressions into consideration they pale in comparison to his once legendary performances on any given Sunday. But it's been a long, long time since Moss has been that type of threat. He was average for the San Francisco 49ers last season and will only be more average this year. Did I say that right? Anywho, there are reports circulating that Moss will become a television analyst for Fox Sports 1. But Moss still hasn't officially done so. Make it so Randy! (in my Captain Jean Luc Picard voice)
10. Ed Reed
Free safety Ed Reed has been a gladiator for most of his NFL career and will likely go down as one of the best ever at his position. He was once the perfect blend: He could cover, he had nice hands and would knock your block off if you didn't see him coming. But age and a hip injury have slowed him down considerably. Perhaps he should just go ahead and put the brakes on his career all together. At 34 years old Reed is already in the twilight of his NFL career. A recent hip surgery means this savvy veteran will be less of himself than ever before. The Houston Texans say Reed is ahead of schedule as far as his rehab is concerned. But considering the nature of his injury and the possibility of said injury becoming arthritic, Reed will be lucky to play 10 games this upcoming season. He has a Super Bowl ring and five Pro Bowl appearances. It's been a good run, but all good things come to an end.
9. Terrell Owens
Never mind his atypical receiver/diva attitude or the way he has systematically trashed nearly every quarterback he has ever player with. Dude is just old. Dear Terrell Owens, GO AWAY! The NFL is tired of your antics, your ego, and most of all, your declining production. The last time you played you you weren't very productive. I understand you need the money, but no one is going to take a flyer on you. You're just not worth it. Your last significant injury was a torn ACL back in 2011. No one is picking you now that you're a year older and slower. Dude, the NFL is just not that into you. However, there may still be a team desperate enough to give him a shot, but I guess they may get a kick out of throwing money down a haunted well.
8. Danny Amendola
Danny Amendola is the man when he's healthy. But he rarely is healthy, at least not for a full season. He missed almost the entire season in 2011 with an elbow injury and only played eight games last year with a dislocated clavicle and a foot injury. As I type these words Amendola sits on injured reserve with a groin injury. He could be out anywhere from 2-6 weeks. The problem with groin injuries is they are very hard to gauge. Sometimes players shift their body weight to their non-affected leg to compensate, which could lead to further injury. Good grief Charlie Brown!
7. Champ Bailey
Champ Bailey was once the best cover corner in the league. Before anyone was talking about Revis Island, Champ was putting receivers in solitary confinement. But there has been a steady decline in his stats over the pass three years. Plus, he is a 35 year old cornerback in a league flush with super speedy youngsters playing wide receiver. His 66 combined tackles last season were very unbecoming of Champ. Also, he has suffered over 35 injuries throughout his NFL career, according to Sports Illustrated. He might be destined for several more this season, especially considering the nature of the position he plays.
6. Ben Roethilisberger
Ben Rothilisberger is arguably one of the toughest players in the NFL, period. He has played through some injuries that most would beg to placed on IR for. Shoulders, ribs, knees and ankles have all been compromised by his fearless playing style. Big Ben hasn't played a full season since 2008. Rothilisberger is two Super Bowls deep in the game and isn't likely to change his playing style, but he's not likely to play all of the 2013-14 season either.
5. Antoine Winfield
Antoine Winfield has been one of the most physical cornerbacks in the NFL for the past decade or so and is likely a founding member of his own private 4-H club. He would hit receivers, harass quarterbacks, hassle tight ends and then turn around and hit the receivers again. It has indeed been a joy to watch him play throughout his NFL career, but when I read he had signed with the Seattle Seahawks during this past offseason I had to give my monitor a double check. In addition to a career threatening neck injury he suffered a few years back, Winfield has had injuries to his feet, his knees, his pectoral muscles and his shoulder during a storied career. In my opinion, there is a very small possibility he plays more than 12 games this season. I know he played the entire season last year and recorded 101 combined tackles, but I don't like the idea of a man playing until his body falls apart. Winfield is a freak of nature, but the human body can only take so much.
4. Kevin Kolb
Remember when people were saying Kevin Kolb was the savior of the Philadelphia Eagles? "He's a prototype, stand tall in the pocket quarterback" they said. Well, I guess the taller a player, the easier he is for defenders to find...and hit. He was concussed after one game as the Eagles' starter in 2010. He then became one of a long line of once promising QBs who were shipped off to the Arizona Cardinals to "resurrect" their career. He suffered a bad case of turf-toe there and was concussed in 2011 as well. Last season Kolb was sidelined with a rib injury. On August 24, Kolb was concussed yet again during a preseason game versus the Washington Redskins and was placed on injured reserve by the Buffalo Bills on August 30.
3. Darren McFadden
While it is difficult for me to feel sorry for any person getting paid millions to play a game, I feel for Darren McFadden. His running style was once compared favorably to Adrian Peterson prior being drafted out of the University of Arkansas, but the man who is affectionately called Run DMC should actually be called Sit DMC. Darren has only played 19 out of a possible 32 games since 2011 and has never played a full 16-game schedule.
2. Felix Jones
Remember when Felix Jones burst on the scene with the Dallas Cowboys? He had NFC East defensive coordinators scrambling to counter his explosive potential. However, the former Arkansas Razorback has been plagued with injury his entire career. Yes, the term "plagued with injury" is overused in the NFL, but it suits Jones. His injuries are as numerous as the pock marks from some medieval malady. Ankle, shoulder, and hamstrings don't grow on trees, but Jones might wish they did after injuring his. He might as well break into that old kindergarten standard "Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes, Knees and Toes" whenever his medical history comes up after this season.
1. Michael Vick
Speed kills and no quarterback has ever personified that like Michael Vick of the Philadelphia Eagles. He is one of the most uniquely dangerous players in NFL history. But Vick also is symbolic of the inherent dangers involved with being a running quarterback and why some coaches would rather have their offense run by someone whose willing to just sit in the pocket and take his licks rather than run head first into said licks. But, either way, those licks are coming. Vick broke his tibia in 2003 and hasn't played a full season since 2006. Recently he's had a rash of concussions and missed six games last season because of the lingering effects of one. Watching Vick's fly-by-wire play is as dangerous to him as it is exciting for fans. It's okay, bro! You can slide feet first! It, unlike Russell Westbrook's skinny jeans, are not an indictment on your manliness.