“Life in the NFL–Big Days..Big Paydays…Big Risks”
NFL players will tell you, it is part of their life. They say it so randomly, that it no longer phases them.
“You are 1-play away from the end of your career”.
And so a knee injury has eradicated the career of what might have been a Pro Football Hall of Fame career.
Damaging to the player, destructive to his team.
The LA Rams have reached the end of the road with promising superstar Todd Gurley, done in by arthritis to a knee, from an injury he suffered six years ago while at Georgia.
A year after reinjurying the knee, he has been released by the team that gave him a 43M-contract extension.
Todd Gurley was the complete back. Big, physical, fast, the ability to cut on a dime, make people miss, run over people, and catch the ball out of the backfield. A bigger version of the last great Rams running back Marshall Faulk, and as powerful as the legendary back from back in the day, Eric Dickerson.
In a 5-year window he had (7,495Y) yards rushing and receiving. And when they could not catch or tackle him, he wound up scoring 70-touchdowns in that span.
But the knee injury at Georgia in 2014, repaired by surgery, resurfaced in 2018, followed by an arthritic condition that put him out of business in a years time.
The Rams tried to nurse him back to health with a ‘load management plan’ last season. He was no longer explosive. He once averaged 5.8-yards per carry, last year it was 3.8 as a par time player. He could hardly practice.
He leaves with the admiration of so many, for what he once was, and what he tried to be in the last year.
But as he leaves the Rams, they are caught in a horrible mess. They take a (20M) cap hit for the huge upgraded contract they gave him. That is (20M) in dead money they won’t have to sign players, or re-sign their own key players.
It’s been a brutal week for the Rams, with 3-key linebackers and a rock solid defensive end, and a cornerback all leaving in free agency, for better paydays, because LA could not give them pay raises.
On Thursday morning I wrote about about the demise of the defense, with seven veteran players having exited this off season. Now you have lost the powder keg running back who made Jared Goff’s passing game go.
It’s common place in the history of the NFL. Players robbed of great years and great careers by devastating knee injuries:
..Gayle Sayers-Bears (9,345APY-56TD) in 5-seasons.
..William Andrews-Atlanta (8,633APY) in 5-falls.
..Billy Sims-Lions (5,106-42TD) in 4-seasons
..Garrison Hearst-Arizona (7,966APY) in 6-seasons.
..Terrelle Davis-Denver (8,887APY) in 6-years.
You do remember the greatness of Jim Brown or Earl Campbell. You remember the potential of Bo Jackson. You have witnessed the short star-lit career of Todd Gurley.
NFL players know the risks, accept the handoffs, take home the money, and understand the statement “1-play away from the end of your career”.
Todd Gurley’s name now goes to that list too.
NFL….Not For Long….especially if you get hurt.