1. Welcome to Los Angeles Chargers NFL Football Podcast and Forum!

    Bolt Talk is one of the largest online communities for the Los Angeles Chargers. We host a regular Chargers podcast during the season. You are currently viewing our community forums as a guest user.

    Sign Up or

    Having an account grants you additional privileges, such as creating and participating in discussions. Furthermore, we hide most of the ads once you register as a member!
    Dismiss Notice

Chargers injuries are not to be taken lightly

Discussion in 'American Football' started by Johnny Lightning, Aug 31, 2008.

  1. Johnny Lightning

    Johnny Lightning Go Bolts

    Feb 7, 2006
    By Chris Jenkins
    August 31, 2008

    Say this for the “dogs,” the apropos nickname given the body part that keeps human beings from tipping over. Why, you can't even begin to pronounce the name of the country's most popular game without mentioning it.

    The foot is where it all happens, where the underside of LaDainian Tomlinson's body meets the ground and makes the impossible turn on a dime, the exact point where Chris Chambers initiates those cornerback-shaking cuts, the launching pad for Antonio Gates' basketball-like catches in the end zone, literally the first step in Philip Rivers' throwing motion.
    Tell somebody a player's got a foot injury, though, and you'd think he'd developed nothing more debilitating than a hangnail.
    “Especially something like the big toe,” Rivers said. “People hear that and you know what they're thinking: 'Big toe??? What, did you stub it? I got mine caught in the door once and I got over it.' How bad can it be?'[​IMG]
    Bad. Bad bad.
    [​IMG] Bad enough that Rivers can spell “lisfranc” in his sleep, wake up and still feel the effects of the midfoot injury that hampered him in the 2006 playoff loss, causing him to spend eight weeks in a protective boot and several more weeks wondering if he'd ever be able to properly plant his back foot again for a pass. [​IMG] Bad enough that Pro Bowl center Nick Hardwick, whose foot was ravaged in a game against the Oakland Raiders last October, has missed all of training camp while recovering from lisfranc surgery. He surely will be unavailable to the Chargers when the season opens a week from today. Bad enough that backup tight end Scott Chandler was lost for the season with a toe injury sustained in Friday night's final exhibition game.

    [​IMG] Bad enough that Gates, who dislocated his toe in the first of three playoff games last postseason and had offseason surgery, couldn't return to the practice field until last week and did not play in an exhibition game.
    “When it first happened, I was kinda thinking, 'Oh, it's just a toe. I can get out there and play,'[​IMG] ” Gates said. “Then all these guys (from around the NFL) were calling me, guys who'd had some type of a foot injury, telling me what I could expect. I was, like, this thing must be pretty severe.
    “You have to actually have the injury itself to know the magnitude of what it does to your body, what it does to your performance. I never in a million years would've imagined a toe injury being this severe, the strain it puts on what you do on the field. This has been a learning experience.”
    An athlete's foot is far more serious than, well, athlete's foot. Indeed, by now folks are overly familiar to the point of fearful of hearing anything about their favorite players' knees, ankles, shoulders, elbows, hands and hamstrings. Despite the importance of their mission, however, the feet have been taken for granted.
    “People have always sort of glossed over it,” said Dr. Phillip Kwong, a surgeon who specializes in foot and ankle issues with the Kerlan-Jobe Orthopaedic Clinic in Los Angeles.
    “It's like, 'Oh, yeah, it's just a crack in the heel. I'll get over it.' Historically, there's been a lack of adequate understanding of the foot. We don't put as much research and development into it, although that's catching up with orthopedic training programs. More and more, the foot is beginning to get its due.”
    Alas, perhaps it's because there seem to be more and more notable foot injuries. The Chargers certainly have been beset with plenty, enough that coach Norv Turner utters the words “plantar fascia” as quickly as he can say “bruised heel.” There are high-profile cases elsewhere, too.
    All of New England knows every particular detail of the deep bone bruise in the right foot of one Tom Brady, who's been in and out of a protective boot and did not play a preseason down for the Patriots. And it was against San Diego last year that Dwight Freeney, the Indianapolis Colts' defensive force, sustained a lisfranc injury from which he's still trying to recover.
    “We see these things in other sports, like basketball, but they're not as severe as football,” Kwong said. “In basketball players, we see partial tearing, but not the gross disruption we see in football players. The ones that rip the ligaments and break the bone as well, they tend to happen to football players.”
    For Hardwick and Freeney – treated by the same doctor in Indianapolis – the injuries happened during the madness that ensues in the trenches with each snap.
    Initially, Freeney thought his injury was caused when a Chargers blocker inadvertently stepped on his foot, an almost inescapable occurrence in such close quarters. Films showed he had actually injured it without contact, trying to execute a spin maneuver with long cleats on the rain-soaked turf of Qualcomm Stadium.
    Hardwick was turning to pass block when some behemoth in a Raiders uniform tromped on a foot he'd already planted in a twisted position. That left foot now has two surgical scars running across the top, plus another along the side.
    For a while, his foot was held together by so many pins and screws and plates that Hardwick said his surgeon was “more like a highly skilled carpenter.” The hardware has been removed, a big step in the recovery process, though Hardwick's clearly still a ways away from a return to the field.
    “Nobody knew much about lisfranc, but it's ended a lot of careers,” said Hardwick, referring to the midfoot ligament. “I've thought a lot about how it's happening so much around the league. I'm thinking the shoes we wear has something to do with it. They're lighter and sweeter-looking, but are they necessarily functional, especially for guys our size (in the line)? I don't think so. I just don't think they're putting out a great product for us.
    “Guys are bigger and faster. There's more force on the foot. .[​IMG] .[​IMG] . I started wearing high-tops, but that's the only choice for a lineman, the big high top, and they don't vary in widths. They come in one size. We're big, heavy guys playing in very light shoes. Doesn't it make sense that a bigger guy should need a bigger shoe? They put a lot of time into the skill-position shoes, but not a lot of time into the big-guy shoes.”
    With his unscarred foot, Hardwick kicked at a cleat in front of his locker.
    “What are you gonna do?” said Hardwick. “Little guys make the money. Same old story, right?”
    Rivers plays with a brace strapped onto his right leg, a constant reminder to people of not only the vulnerability and importance of the knee, but the courage that the quarterback showed in playing last year's AFC Championship Game just a few days after surgery. But it's the foot injury from two seasons ago that sometimes barks at Rivers even louder.
    “It's unbelievable,” Rivers said. “I get out of bed and it's gol-ly, that foot's sore. It's just amazing how much it affects you and how crucial it is to what we do.”
    “Of all the things Gates has had to deal with, this is probably the most important. The way he cuts? That's 255 pounds trying to turn around. He's planting on that toe, trying to outrun DBs. Man. “I tell you from personal experience. Those foot things? Not easy to deal with. No fun at all,” he said.

  2. Retired Catholic

    Retired Catholic BoltTalker

    Aug 3, 2006
    So much for the toe as the male vagina.

Share This Page