Freeney joins all-time Super Bowl injury list
|02.05.10 at 8:04 pm ET|
Dwight Freeney, step on up. You are this year’s biggest story leading up to the Super Bowl. It wouldn’t be Super Bowl week — weeks, actually — without a major story dominating the headlines.
During the Colts’ victory over the New York Jets in the AFC Championship game, Freeney went to rush Mark Sanchez but pulled up lame on his right ankle. This injury occurred late in the game, when it was already in hand, and it makes you wonder why the Colts would have their star player in at that juncture when they pulled their starters during a run at perfection. That’s for another day though.
Freeney is listed as questionable and according to this report that appeared on SI.com, he seems to be doing everything to try and get ready for play. Of course, it is also worth taking stock of what Adam Schefter said on the Dennis & Callahan Show on Friday: “Dwight Freeney as we know Dwight Freeney is not playing on Sunday.”
His status will probably not be set in stone until game time and the media has picked apart every scenario for the Colts. Whether Freeney plays, if he doesn’t, what type of impact he can make to help or hurt the team. The storylines have all been discussed ad nauseum.
New England fans don’t have their beloved Patriots in the Super Bowl this year, but there is still a vested interest in the game, because what true Pats fan wants to see Peyton Manning and the Colts raise the Lombardi Trophy? What true fan wants to see the Colts mentioned in the same breath with the Patriots’ dynasty earlier in the decade?
Fans all over New England will be hoping and praying Freeney won’t be 100 percent to do to the Saints’ offensive line what he has done to Matt Light and seemingly everyone else — except for Sebastian Vollmer — on the New England for years, which is cause havoc.
The injury story is nothing new with New England fans during Super Bowl week. Here are a few cases where injuries were a major story during a Patriots run at a title and also some other great injury stories during the biggest game of the year.
Brady or Bledsoe
Remember when Tom Brady stepped into Drew Bledsoe’s shoes and brought the Patriots all the way to the AFC Championship? Well, the roles were reversed in the game against the Pittsburgh Steelers, when Brady went down with a lower leg injury in the second quarter. Bledsoe came in and threw a touchdown pass to David Patten, then Troy Brown and the special teams took over from there.
Maybe you don’t remember, but there was a small controversy over who would start in the Super Bowl: Brady or Bledsoe. It wasn’t sure if Brady’s leg would be completely healthy for the big game and Bledsoe was hungry and ready to step back into the limelight.
Belichick decided on Brady, and the rest is history: Pats win, Brady becomes a superstar, Bledsoe sent packing to Buffalo.
This story probably wouldn’t have happened in today’s NFL. Swann was diagnosed with a concussion in the AFC Championship game against the Raiders and played in the Super Bowl.
Only to do this:
In today’s NFL, especially this season, Swann probably wouldn’t have been allowed back on the field. The mandates for concussions have changed since Swann made that miraculous catch back in Super Bowl X. Swann’s efforts to play in the game were heroic, but rather dangerous, considering what is known now about numerous concussions.
But, it’s a sign of the times, and Swann’s moment will go down in NFL history.
The question on everyone’s mind was if TO was going to play in the Super Bowl or if his broken leg was going to keep him out of the game.
Owens was going to gobble up the cameras no matter what he did before the Eagles played the Patriots in Super Bowl XXXIX. The Eagles’ wide-out was in the prime of his career and playing at an extremely high level with Donovan McNabb.
Owens suffered a broken leg on a hit by Roy Williams in a December game, and was a question mark heading into Super Sunday.
Well, Owens did play, and he was a force for the Eagles. He caught nine balls for 122 yards, and made life miserable for the Patriots secondary…on one leg. Say what you want about Owens, but this was one of the boldest moves a player can make in his career. He risked the future of his playing career to win that game, but the Eagles came up short.
Owens would only last only one and a half seasons in Philly, as his usual off-the field antics led to his departure the following year, somewhere in the middle of some sit-up sessions with Drew Rosenhaus that were conducted in front of the media the following summer.
While Owens put on an impressive show, Jack Youngblood, a 6-foot-4, 267 pound Hall of Fame defensive end, displayed what it really means to be a football player. In the 1979 playoffs while playing for the Rams, Youngblood broke his leg, an injury that would knock many players out for the game if not the entire postseason, but not Youngblood.
Read Peter King’s article right before the Super Bowl in 2005, when the Owens story was unfolding, and find out how Youngblood taped up his leg and played all the way to the Super Bowl.
Here’s a quick excerpt from Youngblood in the article: “I told the trainers, ‘Tape me up!’ And so they came in, strapped my leg as tight as they could. The pain was excruciating. I can’t even describe it. But they couldn’t shoot the bone with a painkiller; that stuff doesn’t work on bones.”
This story would be unheard of today with all the doctors, trainers and specialists on the sidelines. Owens and Youngblood both displayed amazing toughness in grinding out these injuries and playing large parts in their teams’ run to the Super Bowl.
Pursuit of Perfection
This one is tough to talk about, but heading into the game, the bad omen started after the Patriots displaced the Chargers in the AFC Championship Game.
Tom Brady was seen walking to Gisele Bunchden’s apartment in an air cast, and the speculation began about an apparent high ankle sprain. This also made major headlines because Brady was playing at a pace that was never seen before in the NFL. Fifty touchdown passes in the regular season, the leader of a 18-0 team heading into the Super Bowl … and now his status was up in the air.
Neither Belichick nor Brady was going to say if this was a ploy or a game, but this began one of the most stressed-filled weeks for New England fans, minus the Red Sox comeback versus the Yankees.
Brady would play and … yeah, you remember.
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