Sometimes, players come back well. Adrian Peterson comes to mind. Sometimes, players struggle. Robert Griffin comes to mind. The fact is that either way, ACL injuries aren't career enders any more, but they do take a long time to recover from and can alter a team's season as much as the player that suffers the injury.
But are ACL injuries a part of the game and if so, do they have to be as big a part? Traumatic knee injuries are always going to happen, but prevention of ACL injuries isn't something most fans have considered. The downside here is that most NFL teams aren't doing much either.
I've talked to several doctors, athletic trainers and physical therapists that work in this field and the research is fascinating. Once again, European football—you know, soccer—is miles ahead on this, but the techniques aren't being widely used here in the US.
Like concussions, this isn't going to ever get to zero, but especially at youth and scholastic levels, the effects are amplified. Sports science could easily give a team a real advantage and the gap is there to be exploited now. This is something I hope to write about more in the very near future, but I'll leave you with this one thought:
We could reduce ACL sprains by 25 percent, right now.
Think about that next time you see your player writhing on the turf or standing on the sidelines in a brace. It's not only doable, it's something the NFL and lower levels must start doing soon. For now, there's plenty of injuries to talk about around the league ...