A Look At Shaq Barrett And Achilles Injuries

April 12th, 2023

Bucs OLB Shaq Barrett.

Joe tried to research the severity of Achilles injuries among football players.

Of course, in late October, Bucs sacks king Shaq Barrett blew out an Achilles against the Crows on a Thursday night.

Dudes in their 30s (Shaq turned 30 just a few weeks after the injury) don’t normally return 100 percent after an Achilles, at least not right away.

On a site called LER Magazine, which is a medical publication, four doctors typed a piece looking at players who return from an Achilles injury. Joe will be upfront: The article some 13 years old. And the (unnamed) NFL players in the study’s timeframe suffered the Achilles injuries between 1997 and 2002.

So medical advancements likely have made the outcomes less severe. But here were the doctors’ findings monitoring five years’ worth of NFL Achilles injuries.

This study showed that 31 acute Achilles tendon ruptures occurred in NFL players between 1997 and 2002. The average age of a player sustaining a rupture was 29, with an average career before injury spanning six years.

Of the 31 players who sustained an Achilles tendon rupture, 21 (64%) returned to play in the NFL at an average of 11 months after injury. In the three seasons following their return, those 21 players saw significant decreases in games played and power ratings compared to the three seasons preceding the injury. …

Another possible factor that could have contributed to quality of play in athletes returning from Achilles tendon rupture is the rehabilitation protocol. Traditionally, patients have been treated postoperatively with a prolonged period of non-weight-bearing activity, ranging from six to eight or more weeks. More recently, studies advocating early functional activity have been published.9 These studies show improved functional outcome with respect to strength and decreased length of time to full activity. Despite having access to highly skilled rehabilitation protocols and personnel, professional football players in the U.S. may be limited in their recovery potential by an overly conservative treatment protocol.

Again, Joe is confident rehab has improved. Still, Joe would feel a lot better about Shaq’s bounceback if he was, say, 25.

Recent history with the Bucs and Achilles injuries is not good. An Achilles injury killed the career of Bucs running back Earnest Graham in a game in London. He never played another game.

And we all remember tight end O.J. Howard flashed enough for the Bucs to keep him around when they signed Tom Brady. After Howard blew his Achilles on a touchdown pass (from Brady) against the Chargers, he was never remotely the same player.

Joe sure hopes Shaq can bounce back. Regular readers know what Joe thinks of the word “hope.”

22 Responses to “A Look At Shaq Barrett And Achilles Injuries”

  1. Leopold Stotch Says:

    Yeah… After seeing what happened to OJ, unfortunately I think Shaq needs a miracle. Not holding my breath, but I’m hoping (yeah ik) for the best.

  2. PassingThru Says:

    You have to assess how important “first step” or acceleration is to the position. If an interior lineman suffers an Achilles tear, it doesn’t have the same career-altering trajectory that a CB or WR suffering the same degree of an Achilles tear.

    For Edge players, an Achilles injury is pretty devastating. I wouldn’t expect Shaq to be the same player.

  3. Jack Burton Mercer Says:

    Jose, I’m in complete agreement here and that’s why we need to draft pass rush first, preferably a DE.

  4. Cobraboy Says:

    I was no elite athlete then, but a partial Achilles tear at 38 pretty much ended any athletic endeavor I had in mind.

    I consider Barret a black hole of cap space right now and do not expect him to be anything but a warm roster spot in 2023, just another guy.

  5. Allen Lofton Says:

    Howard is a Headcase. He never came close to achieving his potential. He was never driven like David or balling players. He lacked motivation.

  6. Defense Rules Says:

    Shaq is a perfect example of a star player whose making huge $$$ suffering a major, debilitating injury. Yes Shaq’s career is in jeopardy, but he’s already been paid. Back in 2021 he signed a 4-year, $68 mil contract with $34 mil guaranteed. Bucs may choose to get out of that contract in 2024 (and probably will), but because of prior restructuring, he’ll be on the payroll this season, with a CAP Hit of $21.3 mil, whether he plays or not. Same next year BTW, whether he plays or not.

    Kinda wish that the NFL would revise their rules regarding injured players. Right now they count 100% against the salary CAP. Lose a high $$$ player & it’s highly unlikely his team can replace him with a comparable talent.

  7. Dooley Says:

    Medicine and physical therapy have made leaps and bounds advancing treatment and newer rehab method to help players(or people period)recover in the +20 years since this study was active. Shaq is doing an interview with some other members of the Bucs media pool this week, so I’ll tune in to that to hear directly from him about how his rehab process is going.

  8. Brandon Says:

    Old article means old data and old medical procedures. Terrell Suggs, Brent Grimes, and DaQuan Bowers all tore their Achilles and returned to action far less than the 11 months you described. These injuries have come a long way in the last few years.

    Again, I had mine surgically detached and then reattached in Dec 2019, my goal was to be declared ready for sports at six months. By four months, my repaired side was outperforming my healthy side, at five months I was declared ready to return to sports, and by six months I was completely pain free. I live in the gym, however, and I did my rehab as much as I could. I was obsessed with rehab. Once I learned an exercise to do at PT I took it home and did it in the gym as much as I could. Then I would add to it… I did so much that by the next time I came to my twice weekly PT appointment, they’d tell me they had a new exercise and I would tell them that I’m already doing it. They were blown away… but really, all I did was take my rehab seriously. I knew that Bowers, Suggs, and Grimes had gone through the same thing and returned quickly and that if I attacked my rehab as hard as possible, I would be back sooner. I was right.

    If Barrett works HALF as hard as I did… he’ll be back to 100% in time for week one, zero doubts.

    As for the flawed numbers in the studies…
    #1 old rehab practices… Achilles rehab is much more aggressive now
    #2 the average age of player is 29… the average length of any NFL player is less than three years. Take ANY player at the age of 29 and tell me what the chances are that he’ll be playing in a year or that his field time won’t diminish. You can’t and that is why this study is flawed. With or without injury, players are always getting pushed out in favor of younger, fresher, and healthier players.

    Your study is junk and meaningless… outdated and doesn’t take “healthy” players and their longevity into consideration.

  9. Brandon Says:

    Cobraboy Says:
    April 12th, 2023 at 7:40 am
    I was no elite athlete then, but a partial Achilles tear at 38 pretty much ended any athletic endeavor I had in mind.


    That’s because you didn’t want to do the work to get back. I voluntarily had mine cut at the age of 45 to fix a problem behind the Achilles and within five months the injured side was stronger than it had been in years and outperforming the healthy side. Within six months, I was completely pain free and performing very well.

  10. Dooley Says:


    Any stem cell treatments?

  11. garro Says:

    um …So a medically ancient article says BLAH BLAH BLAH and we surmise from this what exactly?

    I do appreciate the effort though. Any news on the Jensen injury front?

    Had mine all but severed in a bike crash many years ago. took a bit of time. Believe it or not stretching it was the most important part for me. Same with a rotator cuff a few years ago.

  12. Joe Says:

    I do appreciate the effort though. Any news on the Jensen injury front?

    What news? He got hurt again?

  13. Goatfarmer Says:

    Cam Gill, time to step up. OJ a lot younger than Shaq and is toast.

  14. garro Says:

    Remember JPP?

    I know it wasn’t an Achilles but remember our very own JPP.
    I’m surprised that dude could play well as he did for us considering all the injuries he endured off the field.

  15. garro Says:

    I meant is he fully recovered? Should have used different words.

  16. VATom Says:

    First off, these guys are receiving Human growth hormone and stem cell treatments that are cutting edge. This isn’t, as Joe rightly acknowledged, even 6 yrs ago. Shaq’s attitude in rehab will be the tell. I feel confident that if his body takes to the treatments, the injury wasn’t significantly comolex and if he is motivated to dominate his rehab efforts he will be back without a significant fall off.

    Question is, besides when JPP was on the other side next to SUH, was Shaq REALLY a game changer? I love the guy’s energy and doubtless he was the best edge rusher we had, but only when he was paired with another above average guy. Alone? I never got the feeling he was NFL top 12. So what does he really bring? I think alone he is just slightly above average.

  17. sasquatch Says:


    Personally, I’m counting him as done. I believe the Bucs should be (and probably are) planning as if he’s not coming back. I think edge rusher is our 1st round pick if the value is there. 2nd round otherwise. Wouldn’t even be surprised to see 2 edge guys (say a developmental guy in round 5).

  18. Goatfarmer Says:

    I’m conducting a nightly seance with a Cam Gill doll. We need him to explode out of nowhere with 10 sacks.

    Yes, the peyote bud is chewy but revealing.

  19. Rod Munch Says:

    The biggest issue with Shaq is that he’s always, physically, been a marginal NFL talent – and that’s not me saying that, Shaq has said that himself. Shaq has been amazing at getting every ounce of ability out of his body and making plays. But when guys like that get injured and lose half a step… it’s generally not good.

    But there isn’t anything the Bucs can really do about it. They can’t cut or trade him while he’s injured, so they’ll just have to wait and see how he looks.

  20. Geno711 Says:

    You noted the reference article is 13 years old. That is very important. We have seen that in the past that guys recoveries took almost always a year. Now we are seeing that guys are recovering in 8 to 10 months.

    But really it depends on the severity of the injury. I really think that Shaq has a better chance to be effective this coming year than JPP did coming off his torn rotator cuff last year.

    Wes Welker tore his ACL in the final game of the 2009 season. When he returned for his age 29 thru age 32 seasons, he caught 400 more passes in those 4 years.

    Jordy Nelson returned from his ACL injury at age 31 and was the best receiver in the league that year (2016).

    That same year (2016) Cameron Wake returned from a 2015 Achilles tear and made the pro bowl with 11.5 sacks. He was 34.

    Really, I am more worried about Jensen. The gold standard for ACL’s is having full reconstructive surgery. Jensen decided not to do that. His chance for reinjury this year seems very high to me. By the way, Ryan Jensen will be 32 when training camp starts.

  21. Mike Johnson Says:

    Look guys, let hope out Bucs can secure a young strong DE in the draft. Shaq will return. But I don’t think he comes back as strong as he was or for as long as he played next season. Those injuries are serious. he will give it his best effort. But I don’t see him being the monster he once was. WE NEED A PASS RUSH.

  22. Oxycondoms Says:

    Wonder what sport is harder to return from durant has made a nice comeback theres all that jumping in basketball. I would mention kobe he was much older and returned but he shouldnt be mentioned in the same breath as shaq barrett and durant