Philadelphia fans are all too familiar with “the one that got away.” Sometimes it’s a player, sometimes it’s a single game—but far too often, it’s a promising season or potential championship. Many times, injuries are the culprit.
The following are Sports Doc’s picks for the 10 most famous, memorable, devastating—choose any adjective you like—injuries in Philadelphia sports history. Some of these injuries caused a promising season to unravel; some cut short the career of a promising player. And others are simply unforgettable to those who witnessed the plays.
Don’t agree with our choices? What Philly sports injuries had the greatest impact on a team? Respond in our comments section.
#10 Aaron Rowand sustains broken nose crashing into outfield wall (2006)
It might be the best defensive play in the history of Citizens Bank Park, but Phillies outfielder Aaron Rowand paid a price. In a contest against the Mets, Rowand made a game-saving catch at the outfield wall, but in the process broke his nose and suffered several facial lacerations. Years later, the catch is still prominently featured on MLB highlight reels.
#9 Brian Westbrook tears his tricep in final regular season game (2003)
The 2003 Eagles had locked up a playoff berth, but in the final regular-season contest vs. the Redskins, Westbrook tore his left tricep muscle while attempting to break a tackle. Without the dynamic playmaker from Villanova, Philly’s offense sputtered in the playoffs and the team lost its third consecutive NFC championship game.
#8 Randall Cunningham breaks leg vs. New York Jets (1993)
An exciting 4-0 start to the Eagles’ campaign was dampened by a season-ending injury to star QB Randall Cunningham early in the game against the Jets. Cunningham would never be the same player in Philadelphia and the 1993 Eagles never recovered, losing eight of their next nine games.
#7 Danny Tartabull’s Phillies career lasts only three games (1997)
The 1997 Phillies were sorely in need of a power boost from free-agent acquisition Danny Tartabull. After just 11 plate appearances with the team, Tartabull fouled a ball off his right foot and broke a bone. The injury lingered, and the former All-Star never played another Major League Baseball game.
#6 Jeff Ruland’s knee derails his Sixers career (1986)
No wonder 76ers fans are so nervous about Andrew Bynum’s knees. In 1986, another blockbuster trade—this one involving Hall of Famer Moses Malone—brought the team another potential franchise center in Jeff Ruland. But after only five games in Philly, Ruland’s chronic knee problems forced him from the lineup. He wouldn’t return to the NBA for over four seasons.
#5 Randall Cunningham tears ACL in season opener (1991)
The 1991 Eagles were many pundits’ pre-season pick for Super Bowl glory, but those hopes took a devastating blow when QB Cunningham was injured in the opening contest against Green Bay. Cunningham’s was the first of a series of injuries that plagued the Eagles that season, as they fell short of making the playoffs.
#4 Eric Lindros suffers collapsed lung (1999)
Initially thought to have sustained a rib injury, Flyers captain Eric Lindros was taken to a Nashville hospital where he was found to have a collapsed right lung. The injury ultimately would end Lindros’ season, but perhaps more.
#3 Ryan Howard tears Achilles tendon in playoffs (2011)
It was bad enough that arguably the greatest Phillies’ season in history had just come to a premature end. But the sight of franchise slugger Ryan Howard crumbled on the first-base line made the loss particularly painful. Howard tore his Achilles tendon running out a ground ball, and would miss the first half of the 2012 season as a result.
#2 Terrell Owens breaks leg vs. Dallas (2004)
Owens was injured on a dreaded “horse-collar” tackle by a Cowboys defender. The Eagles were 12-1 at the time and thought to be destined for the city’s first NFL title in over 40 years. While many felt the injury to T.O. would derail the team, Andy Reid’s squad rallied without their injured superstar and made it to the big game in Jacksonville, where Owens would make his return in a losing effort.
#1 Eric Lindros sustains concussion in the Eastern Conference Finals (2000)
In the first period of Game 7, superstar center Eric Lindros came across the blue line—right into the path of a crushing body check from New Jersey’s Scott Stevens. Lindros was helped from the ice and would never play for the Flyers again. New Jersey won the game 2-1 and went on to take home the Stanley Cup.