Eagles Pro Bowl fullback Leonard Weaver, who suffered a catastrophic knee injury on opening day, underwent a third major operation earlier this week. This procedure was designed to help Weaver regain the ability to lift his left foot, according to an NFL medical source. Weaver hopes to be in uniform again, but the source said Weaver’s chances of returning to play professional football are “remote.”
Weaver has not been able to lift his foot since getting hurt on Sept. 12 early in the second quarter of the Eagles’ game against the Packers at Lincoln Financial Field. The so-called “tendon transfer” surgery on Tuesday was Weaver’s third major surgical procedure since he was injured.
In the tendon transfer surgery, doctors remove a tendon from an unimportant area — generally the back of the patient’s foot — and surgically attach it to muscles at the top of the foot, which when successful gives the patient the strength to once again lift his foot.
Weaver, 28, posted on his verified Twitter account Tuesday that he was recovering after undergoing a surgical procedure, but he did not provide any details of the operation or his recovery timetable. Weaver has expressed optimism that he plans on returning to the NFL as soon as this coming season.
The league medical source said the operation Weaver had Tuesday is generally successful for patients trying to regain strength and movement in their foot. But he said he did not know of any professional athlete who suffered damage as extensive as Weaver’s and return to the NFL.
J.R. Reed, who had three stints with the Eagles as a safety and kick returner, suffered nerve damage in his knee soon after Super Bowl XXXIX (following the 2004 season). Reed suffered nerve damage during a non-football incident near his home in Florida. He returned to the NFL in 2006 with the help of a brace.
Reed did have tendon transfer surgery, but he didn’t have an ACL tear or any other knee damage aside from the nerve injury. That made Reed’s comeback less difficult, the league source said.
Weaver suffered a torn anterior cruciate ligament, a torn posterior lateral corner and nerve damage in his left knee on his first carry of the season. He underwent reconstructive surgery in late September and a second procedure in mid-November. All three operations were performed by noted knee specialist James Andrews in Birmingham, Ala.
In 2009, Weaver averaged 4.6 yards on 70 carries and caught 15 passes for 140 yards in his first year with the Eagles, earning his first Pro Bowl selection. In 67 games in parts of six NFL seasons, the first four with the Seahawks, Weaver has 725 rushing yards, 706 receiving yards and 8 TD. He’s missed two of the last five seasons due to injury. In 2006, he sat out the entire season with a high left ankle sprain suffered in a preseason game against the Raiders.
Weaver was hurt on opening day when he was tackled by Packers linebacker Nick Barnett. It was a clean tackle, but Weaver’s leg bent back at a sickening angle, and Weaver said he heard Packers players getting sick on the field as they watched.
“It looked pretty nasty, especially at the end, when it bent all the way back,” Weaver said the day after suffering the injury — before his first operation. “It could have been worse. Thank God it wasn’t. I’m just very fortunate and blessed that I have my leg intact and it wasn’t anything too serious.”
About the Author
Written by Christopher Rowe
Contributing writer Comcast Sports, NY Times contributing stringer 1996-2000, Contributing writer Yahoo Sports (2001 World Series). Contributing writer Newsday Long Island (1992-1994, Jets Training Camp) and Newak Star Ledger. Freelance Copywriter, Editor/Founder Atlantic Times Weekly (1993-2003) fantasy football magazine, produced screenwriter and general humorist. Hofstra University grad, Marist College honorary alum, Salesian; Purveyor of the Value and Valor of Philadelphia Eagles 1960 NFL Championship; Adrent believer that Eagles could have won Super Bowl XV...and Super Bowl XXXIX...plus modern decade of Eagles 5 NFC Championships... Believer in the Broad Street Bullies and the 1983 Sixers... Witness to Philadelphia Phillies World Series championships 1980 & 2008, Suffered Phillies first pro sports team to reach 10,000 losses,witnessed "1980 Cardiac Kids," 1983 "Wheeze Kids," 1993 "Macho Row" and many, many, many not-so-memorable seasons in-between... until the Philadelphia Baseball Renaissance of 21st Century, Five NL East division titles 2007-2011, 3 NLCS appearances 2008-2010, 2 consecutive World Series berths 2008 & 2009. 2008 World Champions of baseball [miss ya Harry and Richie]; "collector" of MLB ballparks (42 stadiums including 15 which are gone); Fantasy Football & Baseball player since 1992. Always a sports fan... Tenui Nec Dimittam Contact me firstname.lastname@example.org