Rudolph’s Season-Ending Injury Was Scarier Than First Believed

January 1, 2020
Zach Lancaster-Sports Illustrated

Whether it’s your college or pro team, one of the worst sports feelings is watching your quarterback get taking to the ground and not having him get up immediately.

That’s what happened to Pittsburgh Steelers, and former Oklahoma State quarterback, Mason Rudolph a little over a week ago against the New York Jets.

In the third quarter, Rudolph was tackled and had to leave the game with an apparent shoulder injury. Come to find out, it was just a dislocated should, an injury that would end Rudolph’s season, but nothing too serious….or so everyone thought.

In an article in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, they revealed that Rudolph’s shoulder injury was WAY more serious than just a simple dislocation.

Rudolph suffered a posterior sternoclavicular dislocation, an injury that can threaten several vital structures near the medial clavicle, including the trachea and aorta.

According to a medical journal from the US National Library of Medicine/National Institutes of Health, “Posterior dislocations of the sternoclavicular joint (SCJ) are rare events, occurring most commonly from motor vehicle accidents, athletic injuries, and falls. Due to the vital structures that lie posterior to the medial clavicle, namely the innominate artery, innominate vein, trachea, esophagus, and thoracic duct, this injury is a true emergency.”

Shortly after the Steelers arrived back in Pittsburgh following the game, Rudolph underwent surgery to repair the damage and was kept in the trauma unit for three days following the surgery.

“I thought it was a bad AC sprain,” Rudolph told the Post-Gazette. “I played a couple of more plays and throws with it. Adrenaline was still pumping. Once I came over to the sideline it stiffened up and I was like, ‘I can’t even more my left arm or left side of my body.’ It was pretty painful.”

The 2019 season has certainly been a roller-coaster for Rudolph. He took over the starting job when veteran quarterback Ben Roethlisberger when down with a season-ending elbow injury against the Seattle Seahawks in week two.

Rudolph came in and nearly led the Steelers to a win over the Seahawks. The next week, they’d nearly beat one of the best teams in the NFL in the 49ers, and then trounce their rivals the Cincinnati Bengals.

That’s when the wheels would start to come off. Rudolph suffered a concussion after one of the most-vicious hits anyone has seen on a quarterback. The hit came from Baltimore Ravens defender Earl Thomas and Rudolph was unconscious as soon as contact was made.

Following the hit, Rudolph was in concussion protocol for a few weeks before returning to action against the Dolphins on Oct. 28.

Rudolph would lead the Steelers to three-straight wins against the Dolphins, the Colts and the Rams before the roller-coaster would go downhill once more.

In the final play of a blowout loss to the Cleveland Browns, Rudolph took offense to Browns defensive end Myles Garrett continuing a tackle well after Rudolph’s role in the play was over.

Rudolph took after Garrett after Garrett ripped Mason’s helmet off. That’s when things took an ugly turn. Garrett struck Rudolph in the head with his own helmet, something that no one had ever seen before. Garrett was suspended for the remainder of the season, and possibly even some of the start of the 2020 season.

Rudolph was benched in the middle of the following week against the Bengals, but returned a few weeks later against the Jets and that’s when he suffered the season-ending shoulder injury that could’ve ended his life instead.

Rudolph may have had a rather up and down 2019, but here’s hoping that his 2020 is his best one yet.

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