In traditional smash mouth football style, New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning appeared to be roughed up by the New York Jets defense in preseason football Monday night, christening the brand new Meadowlands Stadium. With 10:45 minutes left to play in the second quarter, Manning miscommunicated a play that resulted in him being knocked into by running back Brandon Jacobs and Mannning’s helmet flying off his head when he was hit cleanly by linebacker Calvin Pace. Manning was knocked face-first into either Jacobs or the Jets’ Jim Leonhard, emerging with blood pouring from his head.
Footage will have you believe that this was a memorable injury to Manning, but, as everyone knows, we bleed quite a bit when we receive a gash on the head. Not to say that Manning’s 3-inch gash was nothing. After all, he did require 12 stitches to close it. However, he simply received a cut when he likely caught a piece of equipment just right, as opposed to being hit so hard that he drew blood. He suffered a cut that he will quickly heal from. It won’t affect his game or his playing time or his career. In fact, if it was the regular season, he would have been right back in the game once he was stitched.
Perhaps the most memorable football injury to happen, however, also took place on Monday Night Football and also involved the Giants and a quarterback. Nearly 25 years ago, in November of 1985, the Redskins and Giants were facing off against each other. Quarterback Joe Theisman took a hit in the second quarter of that game as well, but his career came to an end that evening when he was sacked by Lawrence Taylor of the Giants. That tackle snapped the bones in Theismann’s right leg, resulting in a compound fracture.
The footage of that play has been known as one of the most shocking moments in NFL history. In fact, I was 15 years old when I watched that game on Monday night, and can still remember Theismann’s leg bending in half like a leg shouldn’t. The injury was so graphic, I couldn’t help but get sick from it. In fact, the graphic nature of the injury has kept both Taylor and Theismann from ever viewing the footage of it.
Taylor knew the injury was bad the second it happened, and immediately motioned to the Redskins staff for assistance. Fans even jumped out of the stands to help wheel Theismann off the field on a stretcher. Theismann’s injury required surgery, not stitches.
You never want to see athletes carted off the field, or suffer career-ending injuries. However, Manning was ready to keep playing once his cut was closed up. He calmly walked to the sideline with a towel against his head. He wasn’t carted off the field. The opposing team didn’t frantically motion for help. Some players didn’t even know what happened. Even Manning doesn’t think the gash is a big deal, so the media shouldn’t make it a big deal either. Football players bleed from time to time. Not every player has his career affected by an injury. Manning will continue to make millions and millions of dollars to play his sport. Theismann, thankfully, had broadcasting to turn to.
People will forget the blood dripping from Manning’s face onto the field, but nobody will ever forget the hit Theismann suffered from Lawrence Taylor.