There have been star football players in history and today who have suffered possibly career-threatening injuries and some have suffered career-ending injuries. The ones that suffered serious injuries on the field did come back but they never were really the same after their injuries. Yes, they played professional games but they did not play at the caliber they did before their career-changing injuries. But we start the article on a different note.
Lyle Alzado was once one of the most feared defensive players in the NFL. He was known for his ferocious and very aggressive play. He started taking hormone and growth steroids which he started in college and he never stopped.
He was a small-sized player so he thought he needed an extra boost. He reached the pinnacle of his abuse in the NFL when he was spending $30,000 a year on his steroid abuse. One individual blamed his mood swings on steroid abuse that cost him his marriage. He did abuse her but he was never arrested. He died in 1992 at the young age of 43-years-old.
Jamaal Charles was once one of the most potent and productive running backs in the NFL his best seasons were with the Kansas City Chiefs who he helped to make into the championships. He rushed for over 1,000 yards 5 times while he was with the Chiefs. He was a four-time Pro Bowler and the team’s offense revolved around him making him invaluable to the team. He blew out his knee in game 5 of the 2016 against the Chicago Bears and he was out the rest of the season. He came back too early in 2017 because his knee was not healed and he had to have surgery on the knee again. This time the Chiefs released him at the end of the season because they feared he would not recover from his serious knee injury.
They were right because when he came back he did sign with the Denver Broncos but rushed for a meager 237 yards. He then joined another team and his production fell way below his former numbers and he is a shell of his former self. He never did recover from this devasting injury. He was just never the same runner he used to be before he was injured. He had played in the NFL for 11 years.
Teddy Bridgewater was once the starting quarterback for the Minnesota Vikings. He became a star quickly as he led the Vikings to an 11-5 record and a berth in the playoffs. He was playing in his second season as the team’s starter and he threw for 14 touchdowns and completed 65% of his passes. Then the unforeseen happened before the Vikings first 2016 regular season game.
He blew out his knee and didn't appear in another game for more than one full year. He was made a free agent by the Vikings, signed with the New York and later traded to the New Orleans Saints. He played for the New Orleans Saints in 2018 and currently in 2019. He played sparingly in 2018 but so far he has put up some great numbers in 2019. It remains to be seen if he will return to his top form on a consistent basis. His rushing yardage production has fallen dramatically since the knee injury. So this could limit his effectiveness as a total quarterback.
Andrew Luck was the answer to Peyton Manning for the Indianapolis Colts and he was for three years. He was selected to the Pro Bowl three years in a row. He passed for a career high 40 touchdowns in 2014 which led the NFL. He led the Colts to three 11-5 seasons and the playoffs but they didn’t go to the Super Bowl. He was missing a Super Bowl ring and in 2015 it was supposed to be the Colt’s season. But early in the season, he injured his shoulder but he did come back for 3 games.
He then lacerated his kidney and that put him out for the rest of the season. He came back the next year and he led the team to 8 wins the team did not make the playoffs. He had signed for a 140 million dollars for 6 years. He underwent surgery for the shoulder and whether he will ever recover from the shoulder remains to be seen. He was not happy playing for the Colts either. He did play for the Colts in 2018 and had a stellar year but in 2019 he has not played one game because of a lower leg injury. He says he will retire instead of play anymore. This lower leg injury may have been the injury that ended his career.
Andrew Luck did retire in 2019 due to the injuries he has suffered in his 7-year career and he does not want to be robbed of his health any longer he said. So, injuries ended this elite quarterback’s career and he really did not fully recover from his injuries. He may have recovered physically but emotionally and mentally he never recovered from his injuries.
Robert Griffin started his NFL career in 2012, with a bang. He threw for 20 touchdowns and led the Washington Redskins to a 9-6 record and to the playoffs for the first time in five years. He was named NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year but his career went downhill from there. He reinjured his knee in a playoff game against the Seattle Seahawks which forced him to have knee surgery. He returned in 2013 but he was never the same quarterback.
He did so poorly the team inactivated him for the last three games so he would avoid injury. The Redskins let him go and he signed with the Cleveland Browns. He was injured and missed most of the 2015 season and that team let him go. He never did return to his 2012 form.
Daunte Culpepper did play in the NFL for 11 years and he had some very fine seasons for the Minnesota Vikings. His statistics were stellar as in 2004 when he had his best seasons he passed for 4700 years and 39 touchdowns. The only problem was the team was playing subpar .500 Football. In 2005, he injured his ACL, MCL and PCL and he went downhill from there.
He surfaced with the Oakland Raiders in 2007, but he was ineffective then he played for the Miami Dolphins but he was useless as a quarterback in Miami. Some pointed to off-the-field items but it seems more likely that he never regained his form from the injuries in 2005. He played in the United States Football League but then he retired for good from football.
Priest Holmes rushed for 1000 yards and 7 touchdowns in 1998 which made him a star for the Baltimore Ravens. He played for them a few more years but he was not the same running back. He went to the Kansas City Chiefs and he gained new life. He rushed for three 1000 yards but then his banging into defensive players all those years caught up to him. He suffered a severe neck injury that he did come back from. He was never the same running back after that traumatic injury as he never was in the right mental state after the devasting injury. He started showing symptoms that occurred with the original injury. He was told if he injured the neck again he could become paralyzed for the rest of his life. He retired after that as the Chiefs all-time leading rusher with 76 touchdowns.
Ickey Woods became a star in 1988 for the Cincinnati Bengals as he rushed for over 1000 yards and he helped lead the team to the 1988 super bowl. The Bengals lost the super bowl to the 49ers and they were on their way. They were considered to be the premiere AFC team in the late 1980’s and late 1990’s.
But this was never meant to be because in the second game of the 1989 Ickey Woods damaged his ALC and he sat in the sidelines for 13 months and he finally did come back and play. But he was used on certain plays and he was the third string running back instead of the starter. He never recovered from that career-ending injury and he was forced to retire at the age of 26-years-old.
Above, most players had promising—in some cases—stellar careers. But they suffered serious injuries that greatly affected the way they played the game. One player had one major comeback season but he ended retiring from football because he wanted to stay healthy. These players had stellar careers and they really were not the same after they recovered from the injuries. It is sad because what could have been if they were never injured during their careers.