Sean Mannion is the starting quarterback for the Oregon State Beavers. However, he has not held that role in the past few weeks. Cody Vaz has stepped in while Sean Mannion has been recovering from a torn meniscus. Vaz has done an exceptional job as the Beavers have continued their winning streak, but rumors have it that he will be ready to start again this week. Before he gets under center, I thought we could take a peek into his knee.
Now, I am no orthopedist (although I have stayed at a Holiday Inn Express) but I thought it would be helpful to take a look at the injury and what it might mean for the rest of the season.
Basically, your knee is filled with cartilage. Cartilage is a stiff yet flexible connective tissue that is found in the knee as well as many other areas of the body. It can be found between the bones, in the rib cage, the ears, the nose, the elbows, the ankles and the knee. Cartilage is composed of specialized cells and acts as insulation for your knee. It helps to keep things moving smoothly .The meniscus in the knee is connected to the tibia and helps to act as the “shock absorbers” in the knee. This helps to balance your weight over the entire joint. Basically, the menisci are rubbery, C-shaped discs that cushion your knee (Do you have any idea how hard it is to type all those medical terms?)
A small tear in the menisci will only hurt for a few days and can be remedied with just some R.I.C.E. (Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation … Thank you health class!) If the tear gets bigger it can start causing more problems. Once you start losing that cartilage, it is very hard to come back and it could lead to arthritis. It could lead to bone rubbing against bone. That is something that makes me cringe just thinking about it.
So, when you are listening to television personalities break down a quarterback they will say things like, “He did a good job planting his foot” or, “He got very good rotation when he threw the ball.” When they say that, they are describing the exact process of tearing your meniscus (Thank you, Ron Jaworski!). A meniscus gets torn usually by twisting or turning quickly, often when the foot is planted and the knee is bent (Perhaps it even happens when you are doing the “twist.” I wonder if Chubby Checker ever tore his menisci.) I have listened to many ex-players interviewed and many of them talk about the knee problems that have developed as they got older.
All athletes need to be careful of their knees, but especially QB’s. It is also very common to see this injury with NBA players. Players like Jeremy Lin, Al Harrington, and Blake Griffin have all suffered this injury recently. All of them have been able to come back and be contributors to their team (although the jury is still out on Linsanity). After some surgery and some physical therapy, they were (or hope to be) able to get back to the same level they were at before. Many football players have been able to come back from this injury as well.
However, injury is a part of the game and the players know that. They are thinking about it every day. They are preparing their bodies the best they can to prevent injury. I believe that Sean Mannion will come back strong and ready to play. The Beavers have looked incredibly strong this year, but it will be a tough road to the Pac-12 championship. With luck and rehab, the knee will hold up and the Beavers will make it to the Rose Bowl game.
Good Luck Sean! And Go Beavers!