I understand that Ryan Howard isn’t a football player. But he is a professional athlete and as such, his torn Achilles tendon ought to raise serious concerns for Phillies fans.

 A 2010 study by Duke researchers that appeared in the journal, “Foot and Ankle Specialist” revealed that more than a third (36 percent) of NFL players who sustained ruptured Achilles tendons never played again.

 That’s “never”, as in the answer to the question, how many times have the Eagles won the Super Bowl?

 And just as worrisome for those concerned about the future of the first-baseman who has anchored the Phillies lineup since 2005, of those players who did return, none was ever as good again.

 That’s “none”, as in the answer to the question, how much concern is there in Philadelphia that the 76ers season will be canceled?

 Overall, according to the Duke researchers, there were 31 acute Achilles tendon ruptures among NFL players from 1997 to 2002. The average age of those affected was 29. Howard will turn 32 next month.

 Eight of the players never returned. The other 21 came back after an average absence of 11 months. If Howard’s absence is that long, he would miss virtually all of the 2012 baseball season as well as Joe Paterno’s 85th birthday party.

 The researchers then looked at power ratings, which measure performance based on certain game-day statistics. All 21 of those players who returned to the league saw substantial drop-offs in those ratings.

 In other words, we’ve probably seen the last of the Ryan Howard who terrorized National League pitchers on a nightly basis.

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