In football, injury is just a part of life.
“If you play football, there’s going to be a 100 percent injury rate,” former All-Pro wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald of the Arizona Cardinals once said.
Most players take a seat when they get hurt. But not all.
San Francisco 49ers Hall of Fame safety Ronnie Lott injured his left pinky tackling a Dallas Cowboys running back during the final game of the 1985 season. Surgery would require eight weeks of recovery, and force Lott to miss the playoffs. So he made a decision - cut it off, and keep playing.
Nearly two weeks ago, Cincinnati Bengals’ defensive end Trey Hendrickson suffered a broken wrist in the fourth quarter of a game against the Cleveland Browns. Despite the injury, he finished the game, but missed last week’s win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Saturday afternoon, the Bengals travel to New England to take on the Patriots. Cincinnati already has a spot in the post season, thanks to Jacksonville’s win over the New York Jets on Thursday night, but the Bengals still have a shot at the AFC’s No. 1 seed and home field advantage throughout the playoffs. They will most likely need to win their last three games, and Hendrickson will be out there to help them do so.
According to Hendrickson, multiple doctors have told him the injury cannot get any worse, so he has decided to play through it.
“Just about pain,” Hendrickson told Paul Dehner, Jr. of The Athletic. “It’s going to be painful.”
Unlike some who choose to play through an injury like that, Hendrickson will not wear a club over his hand and wrist. He still has movement in his fingers and wants to use that hand as much as possible.
He’s not doing this for himself, mind you. At this point in the season, Hendrickson has already won the individual accolades. After his 14-sack season of a year ago, Hendrickson has six sacks this year and Wednesday was named to his second consecutive Pro Bowl.
According to ESPN, Hendrickson is fourth in the league in win rate as an edge rusher and leads the NFL with 36 incompletions created.
This one is for the team.
“At this point in the season we have spent more time together than we have with our family, and we are a family,” Hendrickson said. “They would lay it on the line for me and there are guys whose livelihoods are at stake.”
“He loves this team,” defensive tackle BJ Hill told ESPN. “He loves this line. He loves this defense. And he just wants to be out there with us to make big plays and help us win games.”
Although he has eschewed the club, Hendrickson will wear a brace to protect the wrist. But nothing else will change.
“To get our brother back out there with us shows how great he is battling through that kind of thing,” defensive tackle DJ Reader said of Hendrickson.