Another week, another catastrophic injury in the National Football League.
In what is becoming an all-too-familiar sight, yet another NFL star was carted off the field on Sunday after suffering what looked to be—and what early reports are confirming was—a season-ending injury. This time, it was Tennessee Titan wide receiver Kenny Britt who was struck down by Lady Luck and the injury bug.
The big receiver out of Rutgers went down in the second quarter with a knee injury, and the whisperings out of Tennessee are that he's unlikely to return for the season.
If that's the case, then Britt can add medical woes to his legal ones. In the process, he would become a member of an ever-growing and illustrious club...injured players, not arrested ones (though that group is swelling almost as quickly).
The question is, would Britt's be the most devastating loss to date?
Sadly, with so many key contributors on the shelf, the competition for that mantle is a fierce one. Here are the five top contenders:
That photo might be a bit melodramatic so let me assure any inattentive football fans that Carolina Panthers linebacker Jon Beason is not, in fact, dead.
Not in the literal sense.
In the metaphoric football one, however, Beason is absolutely deceased as far as the 2011-12 season is concerned. Beason tore his Achilles' tendon in the Panthers' opener and is out for the year.
If the defensive force of mayhem played on a more competitive squad, he might've made the list. But Carolina was never going to be very good this season, even taking into account Cam Netwon's exceptional performance to date.
So this injury is more devastating from a personal perspective.
When you see a photo like that, football and the impact the injury has on a team's season is the least of your concerns.
Nope, all that comes to mind is the ultimate health of Green Bay Packers' free safety Nick Collins, who absorbed a serious neck injury in Week 2. The Pro Bowl defensive back will be extremely difficult for the Pack to replace and that's a concern given the importance the D played as Green Bay won the Super Bowl last season.
But, again, that's all of second importance.
The good—and far more significant—news is that an initial CT scan of Collins' neck came back negative, so he should make a complete recovery.
This injury might be worse in theory than in actuality since nobody's quite sure what rookie running back Ryan Williams would've given the Arizona Cardinals. Additionally, Beanie Wells has been playing pretty well for the Cards in the early going.
Nevertheless, it seems like the entire NFL had gone Willie Nelson on this kid, and that sort of enthusiasm is hard to ignore.
Maybe he would've been a bust, but it sure sounds like Arizona lost a considerable weapon before the season even started.
There are a few things mitigating the absence of all-world running back Arian Foster from the Houston Texans' backfield due to an uncooperative hamstring.
First, he has actually seen the field already this year and seems destined to return at some point in the near future. Second, the Texans are still winning and getting great production from backup Ben Tate. Third, their division rivals are getting decimated by injuries as well (as we'll soon see).
And yet you can't overstate just how badly the loss of Foster hurts.
He was the NFL's leading rusher in 2010-11 and is a multipurpose threat out of the backfield, excelling as both a traditional running back and an asset in the passing game.
As good as Tate and the Texans have been, they'll be that much scarier once Foster is close to 100 percent.
Kenny Britt and the Tennessee Titans are the second AFC South squad to pop up on this unfortunate list and are part of the reason the Houston Texans can breathe easier despite Arian Foster's aching hamstring.
As I already mentioned, Britt went down in the second quarter of Sunday's game versus the Denver Broncos. The early rumblings out of Titan camp is that Kenny tore not only his ACL, but also his MCL as well.
Nothing is official yet, but obviously the situation is bad if two torn knee ligaments are possible.
If Britt is done for the year or even lost for most of it, the damage done is tough to measure. The big receiver was developing an excellent rapport with new Titan quarterback, Matt Hasselbeck, as evidence by his three touchdowns and 135.5 yards per game average through the season's first two games.
That chemistry in the passing game and some stout defense had allowed Tennessee to start the year with two wins in three games despite a very sluggish start from running back Chris Johnson. The inevitability of CJ2K eventually returning to form is the only reason the Britt injury isn't higher on the list.
A potent running game will soften the loss of the talented wide receiver, but it's still a crusher.
Those poor, poor Kansas City Chiefs.
The loss of young strong safety Eric Berry is a horrifying setback to a Chiefs squad that was expected to do big things as an encore to their AFC West title in 2010-11, but it's not even the worst one as we'll see (and most of you know).
Berry was an all-around stud and no small contributor to that surprise uprising last year, playing every defensive snap for KC and immediately joining the ranks of elite defensive backs in the League.
Alas, a torn ACL cut the former Tennessee Volunteer down in the season opener, and he won't return until 2012-13.
Like I said, the loss of Eric Berry hurts, but it's a mild twinge in comparison to what happened next to the Kansas City Chiefs.
As the entire football-conscious world knows, the biggest reason for the Chiefs' mini-renaissance in 2010-11 was the emergence of running back dynamo Jamaal Charles. The fleet-footed and elusive back averaged 5.9 yards per rush and over seven yards per pass out of the backfield for Kansas City while becoming the team's most reliable offensive weapon.
Fantasy owners and Chief fans were drooling at the prospects of what the former Texas Longhorn would do in his second year as the featured piece in the KC offense.
And now he's gone for the entire season after tearing his ACL.
Those damn knees...
He's far from my favorite quarterback in the NFL, but even his detractors (like me) cannot deny the impact of Peyton Manning on the Indianapolis Colts.
When No. 18 is taking snaps under center for Indy, the team is on the short list of favorites to reach the Super Bowl and take home the hardware.
When Manning isn't out there? Dear Lord...
You may think he's overrated because of his propensity to underwhelm in the biggest games (I do). You may think he gets too much individual credit for what is a concerted, superb effort made by the entire organization (I do).
What you may not do—at least with any claim to objectivity or reason—is claim that any other team's success is predicated on a single player more than the Colts' fate is tied to Peyton's. That's the way Indy is built; the squad needs Manning out there to be even a shell of its former self.
The wisdom of that approach can be debated, but the reality cannot.
The possible loss of Peyton Manning for the entire season has negative consequences for the Colts that are beyond exaggeration. We've already seen the early returns and suffice it to say that, if there is no Peyton in Indianapolis, there is no hope.
Which makes Manning's an easy call for the most devastating injury of the NFL season.