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Can You Tell the Difference Between an NFL Player and a Car Crash Victim?

To put the NFL’s brutal collisions into perspective, I decided to compare injuries suffered during players’ careers with some injury reports from car accidents I found on the NHTSA’s website. See if you can tell whether the person was a victim of a car...

by Garrett Houghton
Dec 18 2012, 6:59pm

Every Sunday, hundreds of NFL players tape themselves up, strap their helmets on, and inject themselves with God knows what to keep their sculpted, swollen bodies from falling apart on the field. If you’ve read anything about football in the past couple years, you’ll know that all that tackling and violence is causing some serious brain damage among players that often doesn’t manifest itself until they've left the game. As reported in the journal Neurology, veterans of the NFL are three times as likely to die from brain diseases than the average fan, which makes sense: Imagine putting a block of jello in a hard plastic case with some padding and then having Ray Lewis jump onto it over and over again, except instead of jello it’s a guy’s brain.

But hopefully you don’t need Neurology or in-depth news stories to understand that football is a violent sport. If you turned on your TV during any NFL contest in the past few decades you probably saw a lot of guys get violently injured in obvious ways. To put the NFL’s brutal collisions into perspective, I decided to compare injuries suffered during players’ careers with some injury reports from car accidents I found on the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s website. I’ve listed six injury reports below—see if you can tell whether the person was a victim of a car accident, or a highly-paid athlete.

Injury Report #1
·Right hand fracture
·Dislocated left elbow
·Knocked-out front teeth
·Compound fracture of the tibia and fibula
·Collar bone fracture
·Rib cage fracture

Answer: Joe Theismann, NFL Player
The quarterback racked up 12 seasons with the Washington Redskins, earning two Pro Bowl appearances and won Super Bowl XVII. However, his lasting legacy will forever be the hit Lawrence Taylor dolled out to him during Monday Night Football on November 18, 1985, making him the victim of one of the most gruesome televised injuries of all time. He suffered the usual aches and pains like concussions and broken ribs, but that historic hit remains his defining moment.

Injury Report #2
·Rib cage fracture
·Sternum fracture
·Finger fracture
·Chest abrasion
·Knee abrasion

Answer: Car Crash
The injuries listed above were the result of an oblique, head-on collision between a Pontiac G6 and Chevrolet cargo van that entered an intersection at the same time. 

Injury Report #3
·Diaphragm rupture with herniation
·Spleen laceration
·Rib cage fracture
·Chest contusion
·Abdomen contusion

Answer: Car Crash
These injuries were caused when a 56-year-old man made a left turn onto a five-lane roadway in his SUV and got T-boned by a Ford Focus traveling at 53 MPH. Both vehicles spiraled out of control, and both drivers were sent to the hospital.

Injury Report #4
·Rib cage fracture
·Torn anterior cruciate ligament
·Torn posterior cruciate ligament
·Hand Fracture
·Torn medial collateral ligament

Answer: Willis McGahee, NFL Player
McGahee was one of the top college running back prospects in 2003, but that changed when he suffered a knee-destroying hit from Ohio State safety Will Allen during the Fiesta Bowl. It took reconstructive surgery to repair McGahee’s leg, it delayed his career, and he was never the same afterwards—arguably, that’s worse than most car accidents.

Injury Report #5
·Chest abrasion
·Femur fracture
·Minor forearm laceration
·Lower leg contusion

Answer: Car Crash
These injuries occurred when a female driver of a Mercedes convertible sideswiped another car before colliding headfirst into a concrete traffic barrier. The driver was not wearing a seatbelt, and sustained most of the injuries when she flew forward into the airbag.

Injury Report #6
·Spinal dislocation between the C-3 and C-4 vertebrae
·Paralysis below the shoulders
·Torn knee ligament

Answer: Kevin Everett, NFL Player
The Buffalo Bills tight end suffered a career-ending spinal cord injury in 2007 after to a brutal helmet-to-helmet collision with Domenik Hixon during a kickoff. The tackle sent Everett to the ground as if he had been shot, and doctors feared he might never walk again. Five years later, the former player is up and moving, but that doesn’t make the hit any less scary. Don’t play football, kids, and be careful out there on the roads.

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