Carolina Panthers linebacker Thomas Davis says he will play in the Super Bowl against the Denver Broncos despite suffering a broken arm during his team's NFC Championship victory over the Arizona Cardinals. At 32, Davis may be facing his last opportunity to play in a Super Bowl, and he doesn't intend to let that opportunity slip away.
"I got two weeks to heal up, and I'm going to use every minute of that," Davis said. "Come on, you know me, right? I ain't missing the Super Bowl, you better believe that."
Davis broke his arm in a collision with Cardinals tight end Darren Fells midway through the second quarter. He returned to the sideline with his arm in a cast and a sling and was unable to return to the game. The severity of the break is unknown at present, though his wife confirmed on Instagram that Davis underwent surgery for the injury Monday morning.
Head coach Ron Rivera didn't question whether Davis will be ready to play in Super Bowl 50.
"If he says he will be ready, I know he will be ready," Rivera said.
After Davis' surgery, Rivera was optimistic about the linebacker's recovery:
Rivera says doctors feel good about how Thomas Davis surgery on arm. Says his understanding is it is possible to play with this injury.— Bryan Strickland (@PanthersBryan) January 25, 2016
While his tenacity is admirable and his toughness is unquestioned, the reality is that Davis being physically prepared to play two weeks removed from fracturing his arm may not be realistic.
"I'm a bit skeptical," Dr. Aloiya Earl from The Ohio State University's Wexner Medical Center told SB Nation. "Usually, operative intervention is reserved for fractures which are displaced and therefore need some kind of hardware (pins, plates, or screws) to keep the bone in the correct position while it heals. That kind of surgery would have him out of competition for at least six weeks."
Dr. Earl didn't rule out the possibility of Davis attempting to play entirely, however.
"Sometimes with certain fractures (depending on the specific bone he broke), they do what's called a percutaneous fixation with a screw for non-displaced, stable fractures. This can stimulate healing and allow for play with a wrist splint, even [as soon as] two weeks postoperatively. So, that's a possibility -- depending on the fracture. Pain and wrist stiffness will be his biggest challenges for the game itself."
Though the injuries are very different in nature, Davis has come back from major injuries before, which makes his availability for Super Bowl 50 more likely, according to Dr. Earl.
"Absolutely. He's proved himself to be an incredibly resilient competitor," Earl said. "I don't doubt his ability to play through pain. My concern would be him playing and causing further injury or re-injury to the site -- making a previously stable fracture potentially unstable or displaced. But I also trust the Panthers team physicians and medical staff who will clear him only if they feel confident in his prognosis."
"If he's able to take the field on Super Bowl Sunday, I don't think Panthers or Broncos fans alike will notice any real deficiencies [in Davis' play]."
Davis, a 10-year veteran, was drafted by the Panthers in the first round of the 2005 NFL Draft. He's no stranger to the adversity of injury. Davis came back from three consecutive ACL tears in the same knee.
When he tore his ACL for the third time early in the 2011 season, Davis was convinced that he was done with the NFL. No player had ever come back from a third ACL tear, and Davis was initially certain he wouldn't be the first. Since his recovery, Davis has missed just two games in four seasons. He has had over 100 tackles each season, as well as a total of 12 sacks and seven interceptions in that time frame.
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