Just How Did Terrell Suggs Injure Himself?

Was it basketball or conditioning drills that caused Terrell Suggs’ injury?

A controversy is brewing over just what caused the Achilles injury suffered by Terrell Suggs. ESPN issued a report with witnesses stating that Suggs hurt himself during a three day basketball tournament held in Arizona. Suggs was quick to issue a denial of that report.

“He got hurt Sunday prior to the [basketball tournament] championship game,” said Herman (Sonny) Hoffman, the director of the Akchin Gymnasium in Maricopa, Ariz., where the tournament was held.

Asked if he believed that was when Suggs injured his Achilles, Hoffman said: “More than likely it was. My staff saw the whole incident. It was the condition you’d describe for a torn Achilles. He had no movement, no step, and it swelled up right away.”

When told Tuesday of the comments by staff members at the basketball tournament, Suggs told ESPN through his agent, Joel Segal: “Simply not true. I hurt myself doing my conditioning test.”

NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport has an interesting take on the matter. NFL player contracts come with conditions that state players should refrain from participating in potentially dangerous activities that could be a risk to their health. Motorcycle riding, hang gliding – things of that nature. Should basketball be one of those prohibited activities?

So what if he injured his Achilles playing basketball? Who cares whether it popped because he was breaking down a defender off the bounce (hip hoops term alert!) or if he was doing a three-cone drill on a field? Is it actually worse to injure yourself playing basketball on a court than under the auspices of a trainer on a field? Are you actually more at risk?

I know it seems worse. You can easily go, “Look! It’s non-football. He needs to stick to football.” But that argument, one that is made in contracts that ban non-football activities, is pretty dumb. I mean, it is. Look, if it was skiing, polo (the kind with the horses, not the water variety), rodeoing, it would be different. Even baseball, with the possibility of getting drilled by the pitcher, is different.

I’m forced to disagree with Mr. Rapoport on this matter. NFL teams are investing millions of dollars in these athletes on the basis that they’ll be able to perform up to their capabilities during the season. While playing pickup games of basketball can be viewed as harmless, the fact is Suggs is not paid to play basketball. He has not only cost himself games this season, he’s most likely cost his teams some games in the win column. Suggs is a former Defensive Player of the Year Award winner. His production within the Baltimore Ravens’ vaunted defense can not be easily replaced. Had Suggs been actually been hurt while at his team’s facilities, there would be no controversy. The fact that he hurt himself during a meaningless basketball tournament is disheartening to those who root for the Ravens.

NFL.com: It’s time for teams to stop caring whether their players are playing offseason hoops…ESPN: Terrell Suggs hurt playing hoops?

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