Why a broken leg couldn't keep Youngblood from Pro Bowl


Before Carolina's Thomas Davis played Super Bowl 50 with a broken arm ... before Terrell Owens played Super Bowl XXXIX after suffering a broken leg ... before any and all of that, there was Rams' defensive end Jack Youngblood playing Super Bowl XIV with a fractured left fibula.

OK, so what? It happens, right? Not exactly. Because Jack Youngblood played all three 1979 playoff games with a fractured leg ... then played the Pro Bowl -- yes, the Pro Bowl -- the week following the Super Bowl, too.

Now, I know what you're thinking ... and I am, too: Why? For an answer we asked someone who knows. We asked Hall-of-Famer Jack Youngblood on the latest Talk of Fame Network broadcast, and he had a simple answer.

"I was the captain," he said matter-of-factly. "I was the leader of the football team, and I was going to do everything I possibly could within my power and ability to go on that field and to lead my guys and to try and win a football game.

"It wasn't about the pain. There's pain in every snap, just about. It was about the leadership aspect, and what my responsibility was."

And Youngblood's responsibility was tackling the quarterback. Few in pro football history were better, with Youngblood producing 151-1/2 in his career -- which would qualify him for fifth all-time if the NFL recognized sacks as an official statistic before 1982.

As a first-team All-Pro in 1979, he had a personal-best 18 sacks but fractured his leg in the waning minutes of the Rams' divisional round playoff victory over Dallas. No problem, Youngblood kept playing. And playing. And playing.

Which, come to think of it, was what Jack Youngblood did best. Despite the broken leg and other injuries, he set a Rams' record with 201 consecutive games, missing only one in his 14-year NFL career.

"We had the very best medical staff in the country at that time," he said, "and they did everything they possibly could to keep us on the football field. Those guys loved us like we were their children. And they did everything they possibly could to get me prepared to go and play those 60 minutes."

That we get. But suiting up for the Pro Bowl ... on a broken leg ... one week after losing the Super Bowl? Nope, that we don't ... especially today when the game struggles to gain a quorum.

"I wasn't going to miss the party," said Youngblood, laughing. "No. No. No. I'd come through 14 ballgames, three playoff games and we lose. I'm mad, and I'm going, 'I'm going to Hawaii. We're going (to go) and have a Mai Tai.' "

And so he did.


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