Anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injuries occur commonly in football. Recent work has reported ACL reconstruction (ACLR) as one of several orthopaedic procedures with unfavorable outcomes for professional athletes. The performance impact to defensive players after surgery has not been quantified.
Approximately 74% (28/38) of athletes who underwent ACLR returned to play at least 1 NFL game, and 61% (23/38) successfully returned to play at least half a season (ie, 8 games). Players who successfully returned were above-average NFL players before their injury but comparatively average after their return.
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