Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Kevin Ware's Injury Was Awful, But Not Unprecedented

On Sunday, the University of Louisville beat Duke University to advance to the NCAA Final Four next weekend.

Ordinarily, Duke losing would be cause for celebration throughout the civilized world.  But Louisville is coached by Rick Pitino.

Even worse, Louisville player Kevin Ware fell badly and broke his leg.  I won't post the clip, or even a picture.  It was so bad, his teammates were physically incapacitated for a few minutes, just from having seen it.  CBS stopped showing replays after a minute.  I've chosen to post a picture of him scoring, to show him as we would one day hope to see him again.

Somehow, the Louisville players, having come into the tournament ranked Number 1 in the nation, got it together, and beat Duke, and are favored to win the whole thing, with Michigan, Syracuse and surprise team Wichita State rounding out the Final Four, to be played this weekend at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta.

(The first time Duke got to the Final Four in the Mike Krzyzewski era was 1986, and they lost to Louisville in the title game.  I wouldn't bring that up unless this was the same matchup.)

Ware's injury is bad. But we've seen worse.

Just at the Meadowlands, here in New Jersey, we've had the broken necks of Dennis Byrd of the Jets at Giants Stadium in 1992, and Eric LeGrand of Rutgers at MetLife Stadium in 2010. Just a year before Byrd's injury, Mike Utley of the Detroit Lions was flipped and landed on his head, on the hard artificial turf of the Silverdome, breaking his neck.  Byrd was able to walk again, Utley to do so with assistance, but LeGrand remains paralyzed.

Going back to my teenage years, in 1985, the Knicks' Bernard King broke his leg in a freak play against the Kansas City Kings.  He missed 2 years, probably costing him election to the Basketball Hall of Fame. Later that year, in a nationally-televised Monday Night Football game in Washington, the Giants' Lawrence Taylor broke the leg of Redskin quarterback (and South River, New Jersey native) Joe Theismann.  Taylor, used to the violence of the game, was freaked out by the result of his tackle.  Theismann never played again.

Going back to 1957, Herb Score of Queens, pitching against the Yankees for Cleveland, was hit in the eye by a line drive, curtailing a sensational career. Going back even further, center fielders Earle Combs of the Yankees and Pete Reiser of the Dodgers fractured their skulls on the unpadded outfield walls of the pre-World War II era. And Yankee pitchers beaned Detroit's Mickey Cochrane (1937, intentionally, and his career was ended) and Cleveland's Ray Chapman (1920, unintentionally, and he died).

Howard Glenn of the New York Titans (the proto-Jets) broke his neck and died in an AFL game in 1960. Both Lindros brothers had to retire from hockey early due to concussions.

Auto and boat racers, and skiers, have been paralyzed and even killed in crashes. And don't get me started on soccer players who've gotten their legs broken by dirty opponents - Arsenal's Abou Diaby, Eduardo da Silva and Aaron Ramsey to name 3 examples since 2006 that tick me off.

Ware's injury is awful, and we should all hope for a full recovery. But it is not unprecedented, and he will live, and he will walk again.

2 comments:

Chris Wyman said...

Kevin Ware's injury is the worst injury in basketball history. you posted about football players and compared it to a woman's sport.

Uncle Mike said...

How do you know it was the worst injury in basketball history? Did it kill him, the way heart defects killed Pete Maravich, Reggie Lewis and Hank Gathers? No, he's not only still alive but has already left the hospital. Has it ended his career? No, there's a good chance he can play again. Did it turn him from a potential Hall-of-Famer into a marginal player, as happened to Bernard King? No, he probably wasn't going to be an NBA star anyway.

It may have been the worst-looking injury in basketball history, but to say it's the worst in history when we don't know what the extent will be is just plain ignorant.

And what "woman's sport" are you talking about? Gymnastics? Figure skating? If you mean basketball, or soccer, there's a lot of women in those sports who can play them a lot better than you -- or me, or 99 percent of us, for that matter.