If you’ve ever had a significant knee problem, think about these ten athletes with bad knees. You’ll realize that you’re in good company. Professional sports are loaded with knee injuries, many of the athletes experiencing chronic conditions that can linger throughout a player’s entire career.
- Joe Namath. Beginning in his senior year at Alabama, “Broadway Joe” fought bad knees throughout his football career. Namath played thirteen seasons in the NFL, most spent dealing with various injuries to both knees.
- Allen Iverson. A list of Allen Iverson’s knee problems runs the gamut of medical terminology. The athlete had issues with contusions, cematomas, a cartilage lesion and synovitis (we don’t know what any of those words mean either). Still, Iverson’s career highlights include NBA Rookie of the Year, MVP and seven-time All-Star honors.
- Carlton Fisk. A legendary athlete in the minds of baseball fans everywhere, Carlton Fisk’s 24 year MLB career was full of highlights, as well as knee problems. He tore ligaments in his knee during a home plate collision in 1974, which ended his season. Fisk returned the next year to help the Red Sox win a division title.
- Patrick Ewing. Being seven feet tall is not easy on the joints. Ewing missed 32 games in his rookie season because of a knee injury, but still managed to win the NBA’s Rookie of the Year Award and make the All-Star Team. Chronic knee pain plagued Ewing throughout this athlete's basketball career.
- Bobby Orr. After thirteen years in the NHL, Bobby Orr’s body had reached its limit. Six major knee surgeries and countless scars contributed to his early retirement at the age of 30. Orr ended his career in 1979 after spending his last NHL years in Chicago, where he was often unable to play because of knee injuries.
- Rafael Nadal. At Wimbledon in 2005, Rafael Nadal’s knees began to show their first signs of wear. Bad knees hampered his play at times during the ensuing years, but Nadal still managed to win eight Grand Slam titles from 2005 to 2010.
- Pele. After missing the first two games of the 1958 World Cup because of a knee injury, Pele came back to score six goals in the tournament’s remaining games. His stellar play helped lead the Brazilian national team to a World Cup victory, the first of three that Pele won during his two-decade career.
- Tom Brady. A few plays into the New England Patriots’ 2008 regular season opener, Tom Brady tore the ACL and MCL in his left knee. If you were listening closely at that exact moment, you could hear millions of fantasy football owners screaming in frustration. Brady missed the rest of the season, but came back in 2009 to lead the Patriots to the NFL playoffs.
- Mickey Mantle. The manner in which Mickey Mantle’s knee problems began was nothing if not bizarre. While chasing down a routine fly ball in the 1951 World Series, Mantle stepped on a drain cover in the outfield and tore a tendon in his knee. This was just the first incident in a career plagued by bad knees. Mantle persevered through his injuries and is widely regarded as one of the greatest Yankees of all time.
- Jake Taylor. Okay, we know that Jake Taylor isn’t a real person much less a real athlete, but Tom Berenger‘s character in “Major League” deserves mention. As a veteran catcher for the Cleveland Indians, Taylor battled through knee problems caused by years of wear and tear. Along with a ragtag group of players, Taylor’s bad knees helped lead the hapless Indians to an unlikely playoff berth and multiple movie sequels.
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