Joe Theismann: 'My heart goes out to Kevin Ware'

Joe Theismann expressed sympathy toward Kevin Ware on Sunday. (USATSI)

Joe Theismann was one of several former NFL stars to express sympathy toward Louisville sophomore guard Kevin Ware after he suffered a horrific leg injury in Sunday's Midwest Regional against Duke.

With the Cardinals leading the Blue Devils 22-20 with 6:33 left in the first half, the game was postponed for nearly 10 minutes after Ware landed awkwardly on his right ankle while challenging a 3-pointer by Duke guard Tyler Thornton. Ware’s tibia protruded from the skin and he was taken by ambulance to nearby Methodist Hospital in Indianapolis, according to the Associated Press.

In 1985 on Monday Night Football, Theismann suffered one of the most infamous injuries in NFL history when Lawrence Taylor’s right knee rolled up on the back of the Washington Redskins' quarterback’s right leg causing a compound fracture. An incredulous Taylor immediately jumped up and motioned for Redskins’ medical personnel to rush onto the field. Theismann’s leg snapped so loudly that Taylor later said it sounded like a gun had been shot.

As Louisville trainers attended to Ware, Theismann reacted emotionally to the injury while watching the game on TV. Theismann, who was forced into early retirement at 36 because of the hit, tweeted, “My heart goes out to Kevin Ware.” Theismann’s injury against the Giants was so severe that the upper-part of his shin was bent at a 45 degree ankle toward the lower area of his leg.

Deion Sanders, Michael Strahan and Cris Carter also took to Twitter to describe their reactions to the injury. 

Monday Night Football has been the scene of a number of gruesome injuries over the past several decades. In a September 1994 game against the 49ers, former Raiders running back Napoleon McCallum suffered a career-ending knee injury when his left leg bent backwards after a twisting tackle by Ken Norton Jr. McCallum hyperextended his left leg, suffered three torn ligaments in his knee, tore his left calf and experienced nerve damage to his knee. McCallum’s surgeon later said that he normally didn’t see injuries as severe except in victims of car accidents.

Minutes after the Cardinals’ 85-63 victory, Louisville coach Rick Pitino said Ware broke his leg in two spots and will likely take a year to recover fully. The injury, Pitino said, is nearly identical to a broken leg suffered by former Louisville running back Michael Bush in 2006. In five NFL seasons, Bush has rushed for more than 3,000 yards on 4.1 yards per carry. 

Keep your eye on everything NFL by following Matt Rybaltowski on Twitter @mattrybaltowski.

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