What might have been? This is the question we are often left with when star athletes leave the sport early – especially in professional football. Any fan of the NFL knows that injuries are part of the game, and many of the biggest names in football have managed to come back from some pretty debilitating injuries. However, some of football’s brightest stars have seen their careers completely derailed by some truly horrific injuries. It leaves fans wondering what might have been accomplished had those injuries not occurred. What great heights might have been reached if these player had never gotten hurt? Here we look at 10 great NFL players whose careers were cut tragically short by injuries, regardless of age.
10. Joe Theismann, Age 36
Joe Theismann is certainly not the youngest player on this list, but he was enjoying a late resurgence when a truly gruesome injury cut his career instantly short and forced him into retirement. Under Redskins head coach Joe Gibbs, Theismann experienced a career renaissance, being named to the Pro Bowl in 1982 and 1983, and guiding the Redskins to three straight playoff appearances from 1982 through 1984, including two Super Bowl appearances. Theismann was finally getting the recognition he deserved as a top QB, but it all came crashing down during a game against the New York Giants in 1985. Linebacker Lawrence Taylor sacked Joe Theismann, and in the process snapped Theismann’s tibia and fibula, breaking the quarterback’s leg like a twig. The injury was so bad that Taylor began to scream for medical personnel to help Theismann and even shed tears. The compound fracture toTheismann’s leg forced him immediately into retirement. He never took another snap.