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Sports Then and Now

5 Athletes Who Made Amazing Comebacks After Debilitating Injuries

Posted on February 22, 2020 by Brooke Chaplan

Injuries are almost inevitable in professional sports. However, some of these injuries can be harder to recover from than others. Several athletes have made some fascinating comebacks after pushing through some difficult injuries.

Adrian Peterson

Adrian Peterson

This NFL superstar tore the MCL and ACL in his knee around 2011. As a running back, such injuries could prove catastrophic to Peterson’s career. It wouldn’t be out of the question for fans to wonder if he would ever take to the field again. Fortunately, Peterson didn’t just play the game again. He was also part of the lineup for the Vikings less than a year after suffering what could have been a career-ending problem. This short recovery period comes combined with some great plays from Peterson.

John Orozco

Most people hold Olympic contestants to the highest standard in sports. It is fair to say that gymnast John Orozco is tough and dedicated. However, few fans may know just how driven this athlete is on the mat. Orozco tore his ACL once and his Achilles twice in the span of just five years. Either one of these incidents could have spelled the end for him. However, Orozco won the championship title for the US the same year he tore his ACL.

Tiger Woods

Woods could fill multiple entries in this list if necessary. His long career as a professional golfer has had several periods of rehabilitation due to injuries. Tiger had struggled with back issues for several years and combated them with spine rehabilitation and surgeries that required a lot of time to heal. Despite these issues, Woods still entered and won the 2019 Masters.

Tom Brady

Injuries of the ACL or MCL seem fairly common among pro football players, and Tom Brady is no exception. During the first week of the 2008 season, the player tore both of these ligaments in his left knee. He had to sit the rest of the season out, but Brady didn’t let his injuries stop his career. The football star returned the following season and spent the next several years playing in every game since recovering.

Kerri Strug

Another Olympic star and gymnast rounds out this list. During the 1996 Olympic Games, Strug was delivering a grand and memorable performance when she landed incorrectly after a dismount. She tore several ligaments in her ankle, making any prospect of continuing daunting at best. The star gymnast didn’t just continue—she tried the vault again just minutes after the failed first attempt, stuck the landing, and brought home the gold for the US in an almost immediate comeback.

Most players who get injured during a game probably consider what it will do to their careers at least once. These are just a few of the examples of star athletes who refused to entertain the idea that damage would keep them from their goals.

Brooke Chaplan is a freelance writer and blogger. She lives and works out of her home in Los Lunas, New Mexico. She loves the outdoors and spends most of her time hiking, biking, and gardening. For more information, contact Brooke via Facebook at or Twitter @BrookeChaplan

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