Aaron Rodgers’ Jets debut last week came to a screeching halt just four snaps into the game.
As Buffalo Bills pass rusher Leonard Floyd brought Rodgers down for a sack, Rodgers left foot caught on the turf, tearing his Achilles.
By almost all accounts, this was a season-ending injury. The 2021 NFL Draft No. 2 overall pick, Zach Wilson, assumed the starting quarterback spot for the Jets, but the team couldn’t help but feel like this was a huge blow to their high hopes for the season.
After acquiring Rodgers in an offseason trade with the Green Bay Packers, the Jets had renewed confidence in their potential to reach the playoffs. But with Rodgers out in Game 1, their spirits are inevitably flagging.
It doesn’t help that, after an exciting overtime win following Rodgers’ injury, Game 2 ended with a disheartening 30-10 loss against the Dallas Cowboys.
Some fans are holding out hope that Rodgers could return later this season. After all, other athletes have had seemingly miraculous comebacks after major injuries.
Aaron Rodgers’ recovery outlook
Just two days after Rodgers’ injury occurred, he underwent surgery to repair it — but this was no ordinary procedure.
Rodgers actually flew out to Los Angeles, California to see renowned orthopedic surgeon Dr. Neal ElAttrache, a sports medicine specialist who serves as the Head Team Physician for the Los Angeles Dodgers and the Los Angeles Rams.
Dr. ElAttrache performed an innovative surgery which helps to speed up the rehabilitation process. The procedure is said to help an athlete fully recover from a ruptured Achilles in as little as four months.
That’s great news for Rodgers, since a four-month window who make him eligible to play in mid-January, which is around the same time that playoffs would be getting underway.
There’s no doubt that Rodgers will be putting his full focus on recovery in hopes of a late season return to the field. At 39 years old, however, Rodgers may not bounce back quite as quickly as some younger athletes who have experienced a major sports injury.
Memorable athlete comebacks after sports injuries
Rodgers follows a long line of pro athletes who’ve had to overcome a major injury to keep competing. While fans await more news on Rodgers’ progress and the possibility of a return this season, it’s a good time to take a look at some of the most astounding comebacks from sports injuries.
Peyton Manning’s neck surgeries
Peyton Manning is no stranger to the OR. He went through a period of multiple surgeries in 2011, including multiple operations on his neck. He had to sit out the entire season with the Indianapolis Colts.
The procedures were so invasive, and the recovery so daunting, that Manning considered that he may never be able to return to the field. But after being picked up by the Denver Broncos, he came back strong in the 2012 season.
In fact, fans were awed by his return. In his debut game as a Bronco, he threw for 253 yards, including a 71-yard touchdown pass. He set the franchise’s single-season records in four categories (passing yards, pass attempts, pass completions and touchdowns) and helped the Broncos make it to the playoffs. At the conclusion of the season, Manning was chosen for the National Football League Comeback Player of the Year Award.
Buster Posey’s home plate collision
San Francisco Giants catcher Buster Posey experienced the crushing ramifications of a home plate collision on May 25, 2011. Miami Marlins player Scott Cousins ran into him at full speed, leaving Posey with a broken leg and torn ankle ligaments.
The injuries took Posey out for the rest of the season. However, he returned in 2012 and quickly made an impact. That year, he had a .346 batting average which earned him the National League batting title and was named National League MVP. He went on to play a total of nine more seasons after the injury, winning two more World Series championships along the way.
Cousins’ play at the time of the injury was legal. But the seriousness of Posey’s injury caused Major League Baseball (MLB) to create what’s known as the “Buster Posey Rule” which bars runners from deviating from the direct pathway to the plate.
Tiger Woods’ spinal-fusion surgery
Tiger Woods famously dealt with ongoing back issues. During The Honda Classic in 2014, Woods sustained a back injury that was so painful, he was unable to finish the tournament.
Woods underwent four back surgeries between 2014 and 2017. During those years, he rarely competed, and golf fans wondered if he’d ever be able to reach the same level of play he had before his back issues began.
In 2018, Tiger Woods returned to competition after recovering from his fourth back operation: a spinal fusion surgery. He steadily climbed in the rankings, and in September, he won the Tour Championship. He followed that up in April 2019 by winning the Masters — his first major championship win in 11 years and his 15th overall.
Tiger’s Masters win at age 44 can serve as major inspiration for an athlete like Rodgers. Being able to come out and not only compete, but to dominate the sport, was nothing short of miraculous for Woods.