April 3, 2013

Direct Kick: Feeling bad for Ware and Crosby

By Denis House
Sports Editor

LAUREL COUNTY, Ky. — Twice this weekend I grimaced in pain watching sports as two players suffered gruesome injuries.

On Saturday, Pittsburgh Penguins star Sidney Crosby took a puck to the mouth that knocked out some teeth and broke his jaw. Then Sunday, Louisville’s Kevin Ware broke his leg in a very freak accident in the Cardinals win over Duke.

Ware tried to block a three-pointer by Duke’s Tyler Thornton with 6:33 left in the first half. When he landed, his leg buckled, bending almost at a right angle. It was such a horrific accident that CBS stopped showing replays shortly after the fall.

This reminded me of when Joe Theismann suffered a comminuted compound fracture of his leg while being sacked by New York Giants linebackers Lawrence Taylor and Harry Carson during a Monday Night Football broadcast on Nov. 18, 1985. It also ended Theismann’s career.

Theismann was also watching the game when it happened.

“My world just came to a complete stop, it was just a horrible, horrible thing to see happen — I hate to see anybody have an injury that is anywhere near anything like I went through,” Theismann told USA Today. “All of a sudden, it’s, ‘Oh my God!’

“It’s a terrible, terrible [thing] to see. My prayers go out to him, my heart goes out to him. I know what his family is going through. I have every belief that he’s going to be back and better than he was.” Thankfully this injury won’t end Ware’s career, but he has at least a year of recovery ahead of him.

Ware’s injury silenced the crowd at Lucas Oil Stadium, and many of his teammates cried openly, including coach Rick Pitino. Even the Duke players were shaken. This was an injury you just didn’t expect to see in basketball.

Even though he was in obvious pain, Ware yelled to his teammates to “Win the game, win the game.” And they did, 85-63, to advance to the Final Four.

It was probably the injury that sparked the Cardinals to the win. Even though they went almost three minutes without scoring after Ware’s injury, they rallied to take a 35-32 lead at the half, and continued to build on that lead in the second half.

The day before, Crosby took a puck to the mouth when Brooks Orpik’s slap shot from the point deflected off a stick and hit Crosby directly in the mouth just 1:28 into the game against the New York Islanders. Crosby immediately fell to the ice and tossed his stick in the air, then skated off the ice with a towel covering his bloody mouth. In replays you can see several teeth come out of his mouth just after he got hit. It was later revealed that he also broke his jaw and underwent surgery and will be out indefinitely.

Two horrific injuries in two days. Here’s hoping both players make a speedy recovery.

• Kentucky’s Archie Goodwin announced that he is leaving school to enter the NBA draft, while Willie Cauley-Stein and Kyle Wiltjer will be back next season. This comes shortly after Ryan Harrow announced that he will transfer to Georgia State to be closer to his family.

I’m pretty sure Goodwin isn’t ready for the NBA. He will probably bounce around the D-League for a few years. Harrow’s decision to transfer is good for him and his family. Cauley-Stein should see more action next year, but Wiltjer better work his butt off during the off season if he wants to see significant playing time, considering the recruiting class UK has coming in.

The school said it will announce other players’ decisions, including Nerlens Noel, at a later date.