NFL

Nick Gates breaks leg: what other serious injuries have there been in the big leagues in recent times?

The New York Giants lineman is not expected to make a return this season after suffering a broken leg in Week 2. He's not the only sports star to end this way.

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Nick Gates breaks leg: what other serious injuries have there been in the big leagues in recent times?
Patrick Smith AFP

Sport hurts! And sometimes it can really hurt! And then there are the times when it ends a season before it's even begun, or in the most tragic of situations when it ends a sporting career.

On Thursday Night Football, the latest serious injury was witnessed, as the New York Giants' left guard Nick Gates suffered a broken leg, and he is unlikely to feature again in this campaign, one that is only two weeks in.

Gates closed off in Washington

In what is a blow to the Giants' 2021 ambitions, Gates found his leg being pinned down under the body of defensive lineman for Washington Football Team, Jonathan Allen, as they fell to the ground. This happened in only their second offensive possession, and they were already ahead by 7-0.

Gates was clearly in a state of distress as his leg hung in an unnatural position and the play was immediately suspended to allow medical staff onto the field. While being treated the rest of his Giants teammates formed into a circle around him until he was able to be taken down the tunnel for further attention.

Gates joins a growing list of players who will miss the 2021/22 NFL season due to injury.

Already on the sidelines is fellow New York-based Carl Lawson. The Jets were delighted to get the free agent on board in the offseason but they will now be without his pass rushing defence until next season after his Achilles tear.

It’s a biceps injury that is keeping linebacker Jacob Phillips out of the Cleveland Browns team this season, where we were expecting his breakthrough, and also missing this campaign are the running backs for Jacksonville Jaguars (Travis Etienne - foot) and the LA Rams (Cam Akers - Achilles), as well as Devin Funchess in Green Bay, who will not be able to help the plight of Rodgers, Adams and the rest of the Packers.

Serious injuries across the major US leagues

If we step back from this season we can reflect on some of the really worst injuries across the various sports. Here are a couple of examples from each.

NFL injuries

Staying with football, who can forget the story of Alex Smith for Washington? Against the Texans in 2018 he suffered a compound fracture to his right leg as he was double-teamed trying to escape the line of scrimmage. 17 operations later - due to complications including an infection that put his life at risk - and he was, incredibly, back in action early in the 2020/21 campaign.

It wasn’t such a positive recovery in the case of Johnny Knox, in what is arguably the worst injury we have witnessed in the game. In 2011 he took an almighty blow to the head from a misjudged tackle by Anthony Hargrove of the Seattle Seahawks, one that damaged his spinal cord. The Chicago Bears wide receiver never returned to the game, and settled for a payment of $500,000 from the NFL.

NBA injuries

Across on the basketball court there have been some horror injuries over the years - yeah, so much for it being a ‘non-contact sport’. Back in 2017 we saw Gordon Hayward sign a four-year deal with the Boston Celtics only to see his first season ended just six minutes into it. My skin is curling as I remember the footage of his leg snapping after landing from a jump.

Three years earlier there was another leg break that we won’t get out of our minds easily. After taking the Pacers to the Eastern Finals, Paul George headed off with the USA national team not knowing the pain that would soon follow. During preparations for the FIBA World Cup in 2014, he collided with the stanchion and the reaction of those nearby gave an indication for what we’d later learn.

He broke both bones in his lower leg but following successful surgery and recovery work he was incredibly back on court eight months later. He even got back into the playoffs that season!

MLB injuries

In comparison to the injuries above, if you’re not a regular fan of the sport, you’d be forgiven for thinking that baseball mishaps would be less explosive. But as we delve into our MLB archives some uncomfortable viewing quickly comes into view.

There was that time in 2005 when Brian Roberts’ arm appeared to sickeningly bend completely around his back. Fortunately he was back playing within a year. Then there was the time when Chris Snyder fractured a testicle from a foul tip off. An eye-watering one for all the men out there but Snyder was able to return to action.

The broken ankle and serious ligament damage to Buster Posey in 2011 would lead to the MLB implementing a new rule in an attempt to prevent it from happening again in the same circumstances. Scott Cousins was deemed to have played within the then guidelines when he charged the home plate on a go-ahead run, although got some terrible press for it, and Cousins was out for the season.

NHL injuries

If violence and injuries interest you then you are more than likely an avid watcher of National League Hockey. Metal blades and wooden sticks, not to mention high-speed action on an icy floor, seem made for horror results.

From Max Pacioretty’s concussion and neck fracture after being hit by 6'9" Zdeno Chara into the boards in 2011, to a triple-shattering of Jeremy Roenick’s jaw, and more testicle rupturing in 2010 when Canucks player Sami Salo tried to block a snapshot with his body, hockey players know that pain can find its way passed the pads and helmet.

For a full run-down of the worst hockey injuries, including a throat slashing or two, this is the list for you.

And, of course, no matter what sport you get involved in, be safe out there...