As a team doctor, your job is to preserve the health, safety and privacy of some of the most talented athletes in professional sports. It’s the type of responsibility that should never be taken lightly because if you fuck up, you could completely derail an organization or the trajectory of a player’s entire career.
That being said, I know an inside job when I see one.
With the 6th pick in the 2020 NFL Draft, the Los Angeles Chargers (that still feels weird to say) snatched up promising quarterback Justin Herbert to become their cornerstone of the future. But the future isn’t the present, which means the Chargers still need someone to hold down the fort until Herbert is ready.
That someone is Tyrod Taylor, who eventually stumbled into the Chargers’ lap after getting screwed out of his job with the Buffalo Bills. Taylor has never set the NFL world on fire, but he’s a more than capable passer—and former Pro Bowler—who not only rarely throws interceptions, but is a dual-threat. As such, this season was the perfect opportunity for Taylor to correct course and reclaim his throne as a starting quarterback in the NFL.
That is until one of the Chargers’ team doctors committed medical malpractice before Sunday’s game against the Kansas City Chiefs.
A Los Angeles Chargers team doctor accidentally punctured quarterback Tyrod Taylor’s lung just before kickoff Sunday while trying to administer a pain-killing injection to the quarterback’s cracked ribs, league and team sources told ESPN.
That is the reason Taylor did not start Sunday and rookie quarterback Justin Herbert unexpectedly did against the defending champion Kansas City Chiefs, in an arrangement that is likely to continue Sunday against the Carolina Panthers and quite possibly beyond.
Yes, you read that correctly. Taylor didn’t play on Sunday—and won’t for the foreseeable future, if at all this season—because a team doctor punctured his lung.
What in the fuck?
In the grand scheme, was Herbert expected to eventually usurp Taylor as the team’s quarterback? Of course, he was. But to be deprived of the opportunity to even compete for the position because of someone else’s negligence is beyond foul.
So once again, Taylor gets screwed out of his job.
Getting stabbed in your lung is kind of a big deal, and according to Sam Farmer of the LA Times, Taylor could miss a significant chunk of the season.
“Medical experts I’ve asked about the Tyrod Taylor situation say lung puncturing is a known risk on those injections and happens every so often,” Farmer tweeted. “Almost never dangerous, usually resolves in a week or two, but some docs recommend avoiding strenuous activity or contact for 4-6 weeks.”
Taylor isn’t Patrick Mahomes. He doesn’t have up to 4-to-6 weeks.
That’s more than enough time for Herbert to potentially supplant him as a starter and put Taylor’s career—and wallet—in jeopardy moving forward.
It also could be grounds for a major lawsuit.
George Atallah, Assistant Executive Director of External Affairs for the NFL Players Association, confirmed that he’s been in touch with Taylor and an investigation is underway, but will Taylor play again this season?
For his part, Chargers coach Anthony Lynn vehemently maintains that despite Herbert’s promising debut on Sunday, Taylor will remain the team’s starting quarterback.
“The young man stepped up, and I thought he played well under the circumstances,” Lynn said on Monday. “If Tyrod’s not available, (I think) we can win with him [...] But there’s a lot that you don’t know. There’s a lot that we didn’t get done with Justin on the field. He’s a backup for a reason. He’s a rookie. And there’s a lot that he needs to learn about this game.”
For Taylor’s sake, I hope Lynn keeps that same energy and allows Taylor to return to the starting lineup whenever he’s fully recovered. Because if not, it’s possible he might never be an NFL starter again.