We all realize that injuries are a part of the National Football League. It is something we accept as part of the game.
But when a significant injury happens during a meaningless preseason game, then we get pissed off. Just ask Baltimore’s John Harbaugh. After losing two key players (including former UGA tight end Ben Watson) to injuries last week, he has seen enough of preseason games.
Keanu Neal’s injury against Miami last week is also one of those meaningless moments. The Falcons’ top draft pick was expected to be a starter on defense. The team says he will miss three to four weeks after his surgery. Who knows how this will impact his rookie season or his career, for that matter. It was an injury during a worthless preseason game only because Television wants it, not because it’s a part of the regular season schedule.
So, it’s time to look back on the Top 5 injuries from NFL preseason games that had a profound impact on a career. If you have some to add, please feel free to send me a text at @tonyschiavone24.
5.) Jason Sehorn-New York Giants
Sehorn was one of the top players on defense for the New York Giants in the 1990s. After the 1997 season, he and the Giants were coming off an NFC East Division title. For Sehorn the season and, for the most part his career, abruptly ended when he tore the ACL and MCL in his knee while returning the opening kickoff in the very first preseason game against the Jets. He needed major reconstructive surgery and was never the same player again. However, his football career aside, Sehorn is probably best known for his marriage proposal to actress Angie Harmon on the Tonight Show with Jay Leno.
4.) Trent Green-St. Louis Rams
In 1999, Green was set to become the new starting quarterback of the St. Louis Rams. He lost the season in a preseason game against the Chargers when he blew out his knee on a hit by Rodney Harrison. His backup, a guy by the name of Kurt Warner, took over. Warner led the Rams to the Super Bowl Championship that season and became one of the top quarterbacks in the NFL and a two-time MVP. Green’s career lasted only four years. He later became a football analyst for Fox, Westwood One and CBS.
3.) Ki-Jana Carter-Cincinnati Bengals
The Penn State running back was the overall number one pick in the NFL Draft in 1995 by the Bengals. He was signed to a rookie record deal (at that time) worth over 19 million. However, in his first preseason game as a rookie, Carter tore a ligament in his knee and missed the entire season. He also played for the Redskins and Saints, but his career, beginning with that knee injury, was spent mostly on the IR (injured reserve) list.
2.) Darryl Stingley, New England Patriots
Stingley’s career ending injury that made him a quadriplegic occurred during a preseason game against the Raiders at the Oakland Coliseum in 1978. The incident involving the Raiders’ Jack Tatum is still one of the most famous and controversial “hits” in the history of the NFL. The hit was not helmet-to-helmet, but rather shoulder to helmet. This incident paved the way for rule changes in the league as it relates to hits to the head on a defenseless player. Stingley was set to be one of the biggest stars for the Pats in the late ’70s. The hit changed his career and obviously his life. Stingley died in 2007 at the of age 55.
1.) Stone Johnson-Kansas City ChiefsJohnson was a sprinter who had competed in the 1960 Olympics in Rome, played running back at Grambling and was drafted by the Chiefs. In his rookie season, during an AFL preseason game against the Oilers, Johnson fractured vertebra in his neck while blocking during a kickoff return. Tragically, he died about two weeks later due to his injuries. To this day, the Chiefs keep the memory of Johnson alive as his number 33 has long been retired.