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Monday, August 4, 2014

Snap, Crackle, and Pop

The uncertain fly in the ointment in any athlete’s career is the possibility of, impact of, and recovery from injury. Whether a setback is temporary, prolonged, or career ending, they all have a profound effect on the sport and the athletes most connected to them in the sport. Three recent injuries have rocked the world of sports. The severity of the injuries are the inverse of the status of the players injured, but have impacted their respective sports profoundly.


Tiger Woods is the most accomplished and famous golfer of his time. While he is past his prime, he won more tournaments in 2013 than any other golfer and re-surged back to the world’s #1 ranking. Tiger has been nagged by injuries in recent years. He recently had back surgery that forced him off of the PGA Tour.
Woods returned for the Quicken Loans National tournament, missing the cut.Woods then competed in his first major tournament in the British Open, though he struggled and flamed out after a promising start in the first round. Woods recently withdrew from the final round of the Bridgestone invitational this past weekend due to pain in his back. Woods was three under par through the first three rounds.

There is much speculation about this recent setback for Woods. Will he participate in the upcoming PGA Championship? Will he be on the Ryder Cup team next month? The big questions are: 1) Can he be the #1 guy in golf again (on the course) and 2) When will it happen? This latest setback at best raises uncertainty about the future of Woods (and the popularity of golf as a whole) and at worst is another step in the decline of the greatest golfer of the 21st century.

Tiger's final shot at the Bridgestone. Not unlike a few unfortunate consumers of the tire.... 1


Indiana Pacers forward Paul George’s injury was so gruesome that I could not create a catchy subtitle for this section in good conscience. George suffered a compound fracture of his leg in international competition with Team USA, preparing for this year’s World Cup. He will miss the 2014-2015 NBA season.

George is a young guy and unlike ligaments, tendons, vertebrae, and joints, broken bones (particularly in young, healthy men) usually heal fully. George should be back at a high level one day. However, the window for the Pacers to win a title may have just shut with George’s injury. The competitive landscape in the NBA’s Eastern Conference is shallow and with LeBron James’ return to Cleveland and the breakup of the Heatles, the two time conference runner ups appeared to have their best opportunity to advance to the NBA Finals in spite of losing guard Lance Stephenson to free agency.

Now, George will not play next season. All Star forward David West, the veteran leader of the team, will be in his mid-thirties by the time George returns. The uncertainty hanging over the Pacers makes them a less attractive free agency destination to attract supporting players. It may be time to rebuild in Indianapolis.

James Harden, huge beard, right, comforting Damon Lillard, left. 2


New York Giants running back David Wilson was an embattled player in just his second year in the NFL. He began last season with an acute case of fumble-itis that jeopardized his status as the starting running back. He suffered a neck injury in Week 5 of the 2013 that ultimately ended his career.

David Wilson had spinal fusion surgery following the injury. He was cleared to return to football contact activities in late July. He suffered a burner in practice last week (a compression of the bones in the neck/spine). Today, Wilson and the Giants put out a statement indicating that he would be placed on injured reserve, meaning he cannot play this season, and that doctors are advising him not to play football again.

David Wilson is only 23 years old and it appears that his NFL career is over. Wilson came into the NFL in 2012 after demonstrating a wealth of potential at Virginia Tech. While he never had a breakout in the NFL, and in spite of the aforementioned struggles last season, Wilson demonstrated the talent to be a serviceable, productive, long-term NFL player.

In spite of the increased focus on player safety, football is a dangerous, high impact sport. It is a dangerous game. The future of no player is certain and careers can end in a flash. Wilson’s sudden departure from the game is another banal reminder of that dark reality.

Giants Training Camp 2014.... In just hours, Wilson's career will be over. 3
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