It’s been a tough season for the Jets, but an even tougher one for Sam Darnold. Each week, the New York Jets quarterback seems to suffer a new injury. The second-year starter has missed six games due to injury in career, including three in 2019. And this season, those injuries have been far from your typical quarterback setbacks.
Let’s run through them.
Week 2: Darnold missed the Jets’ game vs. the Browns after he caught mono and strep at the same time
Darnold’s initial mononucleosis diagnosis resulted in both him being temporarily quarantined from the team and this glorious Monday Night Football graphic:
It's just so incredibly rude pic.twitter.com/aydEeBt7jk— Timothy Burke (@bubbaprog) September 17, 2019
As it turns out, Darnold was diagnosed with both mono and strep simultaneously, which sounds just downright miserable.
“The tricky part about it is I had mono and strep throat at the same time,” Darnold said via the MMQB. “I had to get over the strep and the mono over four or five days. So I really couldn’t eat much. I was trying to force down protein shakes as much as I could. And throughout those three or four days where I had to do that, my throat was basically closed. So I was forcing down those protein shakes and having a lot of people calling me, texting me, making sure I was doing that even though I didn’t feel like it.”
Just reading this description of how he felt made my throat start hurting.
Weeks 3 and 5: The QB misses two more games due to his spleen enlarging from the mono
The illness caused Darnold’s spleen to enlarge, which may not sound all that serious. But as our resident mono expert Matt Ellentuck investigated, it actually is a pretty dangerous thing to have happen:
An enlarged spleen can rupture upon impact, and that can be extremely painful and life-threatening. Per Sports Health’s study, peak spleen size occurs in the first two weeks, but can last as long as three-and-a-half. Darnold’s felt symptoms since his start in Week 1 on Sept. 8.
The same study reveals that splenic injuries are unlikely to the general population, with just .5 percent of patients with mono experiencing such an event. But Darnold isn’t a regular person. He’s playing in one of the most dangerous contact sports there is.
While Darnold was trying to get his spleen back down to a normal size, his top priority was just trying not to die. No, seriously, at a press conference about his recovery, he talked about actively not trying to die:
"I wanna make sure that I'm safe out there, and that I'm not gonna die" – Sam Darnold pic.twitter.com/w0J1MiZ2TL— Jets Videos (@snyjets) October 3, 2019
The Jets had a bye Week 4, but Darnold was still out for the Week 5 game against the Philadelphia Eagles. Darnold did return on Oct. 6, and he led the Jets to a 24-22 win over the Cowboys. He looked solid in his first game back, throwing for 338 yards and two touchdowns.
Week 7: Darnold loses a toenail against the New England Patriots
Following his impressive outing against the Cowboys, he came back to earth against the Pats, throwing four interceptions and completing just 34 percent of his passes for 86 yards.
What Darnold did that got the most attention was when he was caught on ESPN’s microphones saying that he saw ghosts in New England’s defensive coverage.
Don’t let that distract you from yet another weird injury he suffered, though. One day after the loss, Jets head coach Adam Gase told reporters that Darnold, uh, had a toenail removed:
Sam Darnold had a toenail removed, per Gase. He'll be fine.— Manish Mehta (@MMehtaNYDN) October 22, 2019
Totally normal! Everything is fine!
Gase added that Darnold was limping a bit after the procedure, but he was expected to be ready to go for their next game.
Week 8: Darnold sprains his thumb against the Jacksonville Jaguars
Things didn’t get much better for Darnold the following week against Jacksonville. He threw for 218 yards and three interceptions in a 29-15 loss, and he was epically trolled by Jags fans for his seeing ghosts comment.
And you guessed it, he got hurt again, but this injury wasn’t related to any of his prior ones:
#Jets QB Sam Darnold suffered a sprained left thumb, coach Adam Gase told reporters. He had it taped earlier today.— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) October 27, 2019
On Monday after the game, Darnold called the injury “a pain-tolerance thing” and added that he “should be fine.” Gase added that he expects the QB to play through it.
To be fair, if you’re playing in Jacksonville, it’s a bit difficult to not leave Duval without sustaining some sort of disease or injury.
The Jets have nine games left this season, so we will be sure to update this timeline when Darnold inevitably gets hurt again.