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The Toll Of 16 Games And 4 Playoff Games

February 9, 2011

The Green Bay Packers held a sold-out “Return To Titletown” event on Tuesday at Lambeau Field. Over 50,000 fans packed inside Lambeau as the air temperature dropped to the single digits. A few lucky fans got their mitts on the Lombardi Trophy as the players and coaches took a victory lap around the field. (Click here for photos)

Although the stadium was filled with smiles from players and fans alike, fans got a sample of what 20 games of football will do to their beloved stars. Unbeknownst to anyone attending or covering the event, wide receiver Jordy Nelson emerged from the tunnel on crutches. The severity or even the exact nature of his injury is unknown, but we should find out soon enough.

Nelson wasn’t the only player banged up in Super Bowl XLV. 163 million viewers saw Donald Driver and Charles Woodson leave the game and not return due to their respective ankle and collarbone injuries. Millions watched as rookie sensation Sam Shields left with a banged up shoulder and safety Nick Collins made an early halftime exit to the locker room to be treated for cramping.

What we didn’t see were the players who were injured but toughed it out because this was the Super Bowl. I imagine a lot of players would have had to be dragged off that field in order to come out of the biggest game of their lives. Even Charles Woodson returned for a play before he realized his collarbone was broken and his body would not have been able to withstand another hit.

Tom Silverstein of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel caught up with a few players who were in noticeable pain after the win.

Defensive end Howard Green was in so much pain because of a shoulder injury, he needed help to get his shoulder pads off, and during an interview continually winced. And there was safety Charlie Peprah, whose shoulder was also injured during the game.

“I can’t even feel my hand still,” Peprah told reporters in the locker room. “Thumbs are messed up. Everybody was nicked up, everyone was hurting shoulders and we still pulled it off. People had to pick up the slack on special teams. Everybody is winded.”

And everyone wants these guys to play an additional two regular-season games each year? Their bodies might not let them.

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