This from a sports reporter several days ago, regarding the Houston Texans’ #1 draft-pick, Jadeveon Clowney:  “Rapoport reports that Clowney suffered cartilage damage in addition to his recent torn meniscus. The team knew that microfracture surgery was a possibility, and it turned out a simple “cleanup” surgery would not suffice. Clowney also played through a knee injury in his final year of college, and this surgery helps explain his struggles to fight through the injury.” (italics added)

Hold on:  The Texans already knew about articular cartilage damage when they repaired the fibrocartilage damage (the meniscus) back in September?   Think about that:  it is possible that all of the damage to Clowney’s right knee  – both the cartilage damage and the meniscus damage – occurred at the same time, on a single play, the one in the first regular season game, in September, when he landed awkwardly.  But two other scenarios are also possible: (i) at least some of the articular cartilage damage (through normal wear and tear or specific injuries) occurred before Clowney was drafted, meaning the Texans blew it by drafting him #1; or (ii) some of the articular cartilage damage occurred later than the September game – possibly during the limited snaps Clowney took when he returned to the field in November, meaning the Texans blew it by playing him again before deciding to perform the microfracture procedure.

The brighter side would be that the Texans did not blow it, that most or all of the damage did occur on the one awkward play in September, and that the articular cartilage damage is just to a small area and not of the more severe variety.  The best case would be that the Texans would not have risked everything by initially choosing to forego microfracture and then putting the player back on the field in November, if the cartilage damage had been more severe.  That as soon as it appeared that the rest cure was not working, the Texans acted quickly and responsibly to shut him down and do the microfracture promptly.

The rosy scenario is based on medical literature indicating that the smaller the area of articular cartilage damage, the greater the odds of full recovery, and assumes the area of cartilage damage was small.   If all of that is true, then maybe all of this will end well, and the only thing of which the Texans are guilty, is a refusal to level with the public – a refusal that has created a PR mess (and probably demoralized the player) by sticking with standard NFL practice of never telling the whole truth about any player’s physical condition.    By the way, does that hoary practice really serve any purpose other than fooling the opposing teams and the bookies – who are rarely fooled, anyway – ?


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