With SuperBowl XLV coming this Sunday, we'd like to bring you the Most Shocking Moment in NFL history.
In 1905 there were 19 fatalities from college and semi-professional football games nationwide. President Theodore Roosevelt threatened to shut down the game if drastic changes were not made. In December of that same year, 62 schools met in New York City to discuss rule changes to make football safer. With that meeting the NCAA was born and the foundation for the modern game of American football was laid. However, football remained a dangerous sport and continues to be, even today. Injuries happen all the time. One of the most shocking injuries in football history happened in 1985 on a Monday Night Football game between the Washington Redskins and the New York Giants. In the 2nd quarter, Redskins quarterback Joe Theismann handed the ball off and dropped back, then in a trick play, he received the ball back in a lateral behind the line of scrimmage. He had the ball with the intention to pass, but was caught in a web of Giant's linebackers, when Lawrence Taylor made a quick move and sacked Theismann.
Sportswriters have since named the injury the most shocking moment in pro football history. On television the tackle appeared routine. However, after the whistle, Lawrence Taylor began gesturing wildly to the sidelines. Soon other Giants players were visibly motioning to the sidelines and an official could be seen kneeling beside Theismann. The play-by-play announcers still did not understand what was going on, neither did many fans, as emergency medical personnel came on the field. Television cut to a slow motion replay of the tackle, from the reverse angle, which revealed more. Theismann's leg had been bent backward and then forward again, by Lawrence Taylor's knee hitting it during the tackle. Two more Giants linebackers joined the tackle, possibly exacerbating the injury. Theismann had compound fractures in the tibia and fibula. He was taken off the field in a stretcher, shockingly, not in much pain.
Theismann thought that he would play again. He had broken a leg in a game when he was younger and played football again professionally 8 weeks later. But this was a peculiar, compound break. The compound fracture in the tibia led to insufficient bone growth when his leg finally healed. His right leg was now slightly shorter than the left. It would mean the end of his professional football career. But Theismann didn't know this, at the moment. In fact, for the next 2 years Theismann believed he could still play football. Going through physical therapy, including therapeutic exercise, neuromuscular reeducation, hot/cold packs, massage therapy, and weightlifting, Theismann held out hope that the doctors were wrong. As a professional athlete, Theismann had access to state of the art medical therapeutic equipment and supplies and the most current medical advances of his time. Despite this by 1988, Lloyd's of London had paid out a 1.5 million dollar insurance policy on his injury and Joe Theismann would now be watching football games from the broadcaster's booth.
Although Theismann wouldn't play football again, professionally, he is still able to run and walk and has full mobility. Many people with injuries are far less lucky. Some physical therapy patients are unable to move their arms or legs. Some of these cases are irreversible, but in others physical therapists can work with the patient and by using therapeutic techniques and therapeutic equipment, can bring the patient towards full mobility. But this is not easy, sometimes taking years for only minimal progress. Patients recovering from strokes or spinal cord injuries have a hard, long physical therapy ahead of them and generally don't have the resources of professional athletes. Yet every day, physical therapists are helping patients all around the world heal. Sometimes it means being able to play a sport professionally again, other times it could mean just being able to stand up and walk again.