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An Ode to the ACL

The anterior cruciate ligament, or ACL, which is found in the knee, is very, very small.

Yet, it can be so big at times. Especially for sports clubs.

Like, say, for the New England Patriots or Chelsea.

Today, athletes seem to be tearing their ACLs at an alarming rate. In the last few days, two of sport’s most exciting athletes, Tom Brady of the Pats and Michael Essien of Chelski, have grimaced in pain as their seasons ended due to that little torn bastard.

How does an ACL injury occur you ask? Well, it is often torn during sudden dislocation, torsion, or hyperextension of the knee.  

Wow, that sounds unusually and excruciatingly painful, doesn’t it?

It is a very common injury in football, hockey, skiing, skating and soccer. Usually the injury occurs when someone tries to rapidly change direction with the leading leg out, resulting in the twisting the knee.  The other way the injury can occur is when a player suffers a sudden high pressure impact on the side of the knee when the knee is locked and the leg is firmly planted.

Brady’s and Essien’s injuries were the result of the second cause listed above: blows to the knee while the leg was firmly planted. Brady was releasing the ball when a defender rolled into his leg. Essien was playing a ball to a teammate when he was violently taken down from behind by an opponent. Both will need surgery and both will miss the season. Both Mr. Kraft and Mr. Abramovich are none too pleased.

At least for Kraft, Brady went down in a league game. Essien sustained his ACL injury while playing in a World Cup qualifier for Ghana against Libya. I am sure Abramovich is not at all pleased about that. Especially considering the fact he didn’t go out and sign anyone of note during the transfer period. Imagine if Brady had gotten injured while playing in an exhibition, or while getting nasty with his girlfriend, Gisele.

Hmm, I may keep imagining that last scenario if you don’t mind, but I think I’ll substitute myself for Tom Terrific.

The loss of Brady and Essien for the season due to that little ligament is a monumental blow to both their teams. Both occupied the role of team leader, both physically and mentally, and neither can be replaced. Both have long recoveries in front of them and I wish them well.