Shutdown Corner - NFL

Some guys never get hurt. Some guys are injury-prone. And then there's Chad Pennington(notes), who can't seem to make it a few months without undergoing a major health issue.

The free agent quarterback's string of bad injury luck continued last week when he tore his ACL while playing a pickup basketball game in Miami. He'll undergo an operation to repair the ligament next month. The famed Dr. James Andrews will perform the surgery.

Pennington took two snaps for the Miami Dolphins last season before his recurring shoulder injury sent him to injured reserve. He's had four surgeries on the shoulder since 2004, all stemming from a rotator cuff injury he suffered while playing that season for the New York Jets.

Already in his career, Pennington has twice won the NFL's Comeback Player of the Year award. He had been hoping to sign with a team and pursue a third, but the knee injury likely derails any chance he had at returning this coming season (if there even is one).

I've always thought Pennington got a raw deal from analysts and fans. It's cliche to say, and overused in other sports, but he got the job done. Those four playoff appearances have to mean something, right? There's a widely held belief that quarterbacks need to be built like Tom Brady(notes) or have the athleticism of Michael Vick(notes) or project the leadership of Peyton Manning(notes). Pennington didn't look the part or appear to have commanded the huddle, but he won ball games.

He's only 34 years old (just 14 months older than Tom Brady), so it's not unreasonable to assume he could return to the league when the ACL heals. If he misses this year, though, any comeback to football would start as a 36-year-old in 2012. Given his injury history and his lack of big arm, this untimely injury could signal his NFL swansong.

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