The news that Dusty Dvoracek might have a torn ACL is extremely disheartening, even for a neutral observer. Dvoracek's already torn his ACL once, suffered a season-long foot injury, and tore his biceps tendon last year, resulting in him missing 35 of the 48 regular season games he's been eligible to play in since arriving in Chicago as a third-round pick in 2006.
While we won't know whether Dvoracek's ACL is actually torn for another day or two, the news got me wondering: Has Dvoracek been the most-injured player of recent memory? I loaded up our injury database to find out.
First, without considering the possibility of Dvoracek missing the 2009 season, I wanted to see whether he'd missed more time than the other members of his class. Using either AGL (our metric which adjusts appearances at a certain injury status on the injury report for historical rates of participation, after adjusting for a player's role on the team) or purely the raw number of games the player missed, it's pretty clear that Dvoracek's been the member of his draft class most afflicted by injury.
|Table 1: Most AGL Accrued, 2006 Draft||ID||Name||Position||AGL||Games Missed|
What if Dvoracek misses the entire 2009 season, though? Will he be the most injured player of the decade?
To find out, I compared Dvoracek's figures, were he to miss 16 more games and accrue the 96 more AGL that would result, to those of every player who made their debut between 2001 and 2005, the players and years for which we have four years of optimized injury data. I looked at the injuries suffered by each of those players over their first four seasons as a pro, comparing their games missed over that timeframe to Dvoracek's.
It turns out that Dvoracek wouldn't even need to miss the entire season to rank as this decade's most-injured player.
|Table 2: Most Games Missed, 05-08||ID||Name||Position||AGL||Games Missed|
The only player who would come close to Dvoracek, if the defensive tackle ends up missing the year, is Dan Cody. The former Ravens second-round pick only played in three NFL games after being selected in the 2005 draft, thanks to complications and recurrences of a torn ACL suffered during his first camp. He made it back onto the field for the Ravens' 2008 camp, but was cut and has presumably retired.
As you can see, it's not a forgiving list to be on. Chris Perry was the butt of many of our jokes last year, but he very likely failed to get the NFL reps he needed to become a successful back because of injury. Teammate David Pollack suffered a neck injury and was forced to retire. The players on the list who have been lucky enough to continue their careers have failed to develop into more than reserves. We've often said that health is a skill, but it's always sad to see otherwise-able players prevented from reaching their potential by the limits of their bodies or freak injuries. I hope that Dvoracek, by all accounts an extremely hard worker, will find that his ACL is intact.