Rashad Johnson had a very tough Sunday. (Diamond Images/Getty Images)
The Arizona Cardinals selected safety Rashad Johnson in the third round of the 2009 draft out of Alabama, and re-signed him to a three-year, $4.8 million contract in March of this year. Johnson has been a special-teamer and spot starter through his career, though he's seen more playing time in 2013 as the Cards defense redefines itself under new coordinator Todd Bowles. He was in on every defensive snap of the team's first two games, and on the same track against the New Orleans Saints in Week 3. But there was one play against the Drew Brees' crew on Sunday that Johnson would probably like back in Arizona's 31-7 loss. From Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic:
Ouch. Somers goes on to report that Johnson had surgery on his finger (it was actually his left middle finger) on Sunday, and the bone was exposed, so infection is a factor. He lost the finger at the first knuckle, and doctors shaved it down. Somers said that it's believed Johnson lost the tip during a Darren Sproles punt return, though ESPN's Adam Schefter reported that Johnson will have to go back to watch film to see what happened.
Again: This kid lost part of his middle finger during a game, and he needs to go back to actually see what happened. He didn't notice the "separation" until he took off his glove, and ... well, that's just scary. Never underestimate the pain-killing value of adrenalin.
Of course, this brings us back to the story of Ronnie Lott, the Hall-of-Fame safety for the San Francisco 49ers, Los Angeles Raiders and New York Jets. On Dec. 22, 1985, Lott severely jammed his left pinky finger between the helmet and shoulder pads of Dallas Cowboys running back Timmy Newsome. Months later, that digit had not healed.
"There was a separation between the bone and the first joint," Lott recalled for the Sept. 15, 1986 issue of Sports Illustrated. "I could move the tip without moving the joint."
GALLERY: Athletes who have played in pain
Doctors gave Lott a few options during a preseason consultation. They could perform a bone graft, but the procedure would leave Lott unable to play in the 49ers' 1986 season-opener, Or, they could amputate the part of the offending digit that was still giving Lott trouble. Lott famously chose the latter, and has gone through the rest of his life with one shortened finger in the name of football. Lott led the league with 10 interceptions that season, but as he later said, his choice has given him pause at times.
"We are losing the compassionate side of sports," he told the San Francisco Chronicle. "We're becoming gladiators. If I ever become a coach, I hope I never lose sight of the fact that players are people. They feel, they have emotions. I could have all of [former 49ers owner] Eddie DeBartolo's corporations and it isn't going to buy me a new finger. It has given me a new perspective on life."