NAME: Vinny Testaverde
TEAM: New York Jets
INJURY: Ruptured Achilles Tendon
HOW IT HAPPENED
Following a play in the first game of the season, Testaverde suddenly fell to the ground. He wasn't tackled or tripped on the play. He lay in obvious pain, doubled over and cradling his left ankle; he was later diagnosed with a ruptured Achilles tendon. The injury had happened when he quickly changed direction. Testaverde left the field using one leg and the help of two teammates. He will be out for the season.
In the best season of his 12-year career, Testaverde passed for 3,256 yards and 29 touchdowns, while throwing just seven interceptions. A 13-year NFL veteran, he ranks 20th on the NFL's list of passing leaders. Following his rookie year, he started at least 10 games in 11 consecutive seasons. Testaverde won the Heisman Trophy in 1986 while attending the University of Miami and was named to numerous all-rookie teams following the 1987 season.
WHAT'S INVOLVED IN A RUPTURED ACHILLES?
The Achilles tendon, a thick tendon that attaches a muscle in the calf to the heel, gives a person the ability to rise onto the toes and to point the foot. It is used in jumping and to thrust off in running and helps a person get movement and strength into the push-off motion. A rupture of the tendon is most often caused by trauma -- possibly the result of being hit or kicked in the back of the leg. The rupture can also be caused by a very forceful push-off. This explains the number of non-contact Achilles tendon tears. By suddenly tightening the leg and forcefully contracting the muscle, the tendon becomes overly stressed and can tear.
The rupture is easy to diagnose. Patients often describe it as an excruciating pain -- as if they'd hit by a baseball bat or shot in the back of the leg. Usually, there is obvious swelling. A patient with a ruptured Achilles will not be able to stand on his or her toes.