NFL coaches and players know that the ultimate success or failure of an entire season often hinges on the health of the quarterback. And in the brutal world of the NFL, a signal-caller’s knees, shoulders, back, and neck are at risk every time he drops back to pass. A trip to the playoffs and possible shot at the ever-elusive Super Bowl trophy can be gone in a single play. It’s even worse when a season-ending injury to your quarterback occurs on the practice field. Or in a non-contact drill. That’s exactly what recently happened to Minnesota Vikings quarterback, Teddy Bridgewater, when his knee buckled on a routine play.
The injury occurred about thirty minutes into practice on August 30th. Bridgewater, a second year player out of the University of Louisville, was leading the first team Viking offense through basic drills when misfortune struck. He planted his foot in the turf the wrong way and went down in a heap. The result was described later by the team as a dislocated knee, torn anterior cruciate ligament (ACL), and “other structural damage.” The traumatic injury required a 911 call. Bridgewater was taken by ambulance to Hennepin County Medical Center, the premier trauma center in the area.
Surgical repair of an ACL is a serious surgery but one with a good outcome most of the time. The complicating factor here is that Bridgewater is a pro football player who wants to return to a high level of athletic competition. Plus there’s the tricky bit that his knee actually dislocated. An ACL repair involves using a graft taken from another part of the patient’s body. Usual suspects are either a hamstring or knee cap tendon. If available, the doctor might choose to use a donor tendon that is actually a healthy ACL. Most ACL repairs can be accomplished through a series of small incisions, though sometimes require cutting the knee open. No details have been provided on the exact process Bridgewater will need.
Return to Action
While the Vikings have not yet ruled Bridgewater lost for the season, it seems to be a foregone conclusion. The time required to make a full recovery is liable to be significant. Players who have suffered similar injuries usually take at least a year before they are ready to get back into action. In Bridgewater’s favor is the fact that he is young, only 23-years-old, and, from all indications, is staying positive about the coming rehabilitation process. In short, the kid is ready to get to work so that he can play again.
Unfortunately, catastrophic knee injuries are a common occurrence in the NFL. Some players are able to return to pre-injury form and some are not. The odds on whether Teddy Bridgewater is able to return to play quarterback are probably even at best. The good news is that a quarterback can play effectively without doing much running. Ask Tom Brady. Always in the discussion as the greatest quarterback ever, Brady is a statue in the pocket. You’re more likely to witness the birth of a three-headed goat than see the man pull the ball down and take off on foot. One problem. Bridgewater has been a dual threat to date. He may have to change that mindset when he returns and resign himself to the idea of being a pocket passer.