When I first heard ILB Lawrence Timmons' toe was injured I thought, "Ha! A toe injury. How bad could that be?" Well, when you add the word "turf" before "toe" you get turf toe, a potentially career-ending injury.
Tomlin today called Timmons' injury turf toe. That is troubling #Steelers— Dale Lolley (@dlolleyor) August 21, 2015
Before you call me an alarmist, let's take a look at the case of legendary Steeler Jack Lambert, one of the greatest linebackers of all time. His accomplishments on the field overshadow the cause of his retirement. He was a nine-time Pro Bowler, four-time Super Bowl champion, NFL Defensive Player of the year, and a member of the NFL 75th Anniversary All-Time team.
The reason his storied career ended? Turf toe, a sprain involving the ligaments around the main toe joint. Deion Sanders career also ended because of turf toe. Dancers, basketball players, wrestlers, gymnasts, and, of course, football players are prone to the injury. For football players, repeated over-bending of the toe during forceful push offs can cause the injury to arise, usually suddenly.
Turf toe isn't always career-ending, but it does take a long time to heal. If players return to the field, a sturdier shoe can prevent future injuries. Former Baltimore Ravens LB Ray Lewis had a case of turf toe in 2011 and was able to play through the 2012 season. Former Pittsburgh Steelers RB Willie Parker only missed two games with a case of turf toe in 2009, though his NFL career effectively ended after that season. Of the injury, Parker said at the time, "You ever have turf toe? Oh, it's painful; yeah it's real painful."
A little toe injury on a hulking, 234-lb professional football player can end up being a big deal. Let's hope that Timmons can bounce back and have a full, productive season, and career, for the Steelers.