December 20, 2004

A "super" season took a dramatic turn late Monday afternoon when it was announced that wide receiver Terrell Owens will be sidelined up until at least Super Bowl Sunday with a sprained deltoid ligament in his right ankle that will require surgery. Owens also has a a fractured fibula.
Owens suffered the injury on the second play of the third quarter in Sunday's win over Dallas when he was dragged down from behind by Cowboys safety Roy Williams.

The Eagles' leading receiver will have surgery Wednesday in which doctors will insert a screw to stabilize the ankle joint. As for the fibula fracture, which is located 10 centimeters below the knee, doctors will allow that to heal on its own.

Terrell Owens limps off the field
"It's a high ankle sprain that's bad enough to need surgery," said head athletic trainer Rick Burkholder. "However, the normal stuff that we see with the high ankle sprain in terms of the inferior anterior tibfib ligament is something that we look at is not torn. The posterior tibfib ligament is not torn... but he had enough force there that his joint opens up but he doesn't have a tremendous amount of damage in that ankle."

If everything goes right, T.O. could start riding a bike and working in the pool in three weeks. In five weeks, Burkholder emphasized, if everything goes smoothly, he can begin running on it.

Seven weeks from this past Sunday is Super Bowl Sunday, and Burkholder says there's an outside chance that T.O. could play some sort of role in that game. But he would have to clear "a lot of hurdles" to get to that point.

"The scenario I painted is the best-case scenario, but it is realistic," Burkholder said. "You want the screw to sit in there long enough to stabilize the soft tissue."

The worst case scenario is that the screw remains in for three months and Owens doesn't play again until next season.

However, Owens has shown a penchant for rebounding from injuries in the past. In fact, he missed just two games after suffering a high ankle sprain in 1999.

"He had a high ankle sprain at one time in his career so that may be the deal that he had so much scar tissue in there that when his ankle rotated yesterday, scar tissue took up all the stress and it just moved up his leg and got the bone," Burkholder said. "It is a little unstable, but it may heal up pretty quickly because it's scarred in there."

In his nine-year career, Owens has missed only seven games because of injury. Ironically, almost one year ago, T.O. fractured his left collarbone as a member of the ***** in a game San Francisco won at Lincoln Financial Field.

"I've sat here and told you about our athletes before that genetically they're a little different than you and I," Burkholder said. "He is and that's why we're holding out hope that this guy can return. This is the purest, cleanest athlete that you know.

"The guy is meticulous about his body and in other cases that he's had injuries he's healed up very, very quickly. He had the clavicle fracture a few years ago, maybe even last year I think, and he healed up very, very quickly. So we're holding out this hope that he will do it.

"If anybody has a chance to do it, T.O. has that chance."