Matt Slauson’s story could have ended much worse. His move from the roster to injured reserve caught most by surprise after the miserable spectacle that was the Thursday Night football game. There was not a lot of information readily available, but it is now known that in the 3rd quarter of the game, Slauson broke two vertebrae in his spine. He played the remainder of the game.
My first reaction to hearing that is that Matt Slauson’s toughness can never be challenged again. Anyone who can break two vertebrae and then just rub some dirt on it and resume hitting 300lb men is a tougher human being than anyone I know. I for one am greatly relieved that he didn’t suffer a worse injury during that time that could have paralyzed him. He seems to have realized in retrospect what a foolish decision it was to keep playing after the injury, although he obviously didn’t know the extent of it at the time.
Backstory on Matt Slauson's scary injury: Broke 2 vertebrae in his spine early 3Q Thursday, then played through it. Only later he learned he was one play away from serious damage -- could have been paralyzed. "I had no idea how close I was to changing my family's life," he said.— Zak Keefer (@zkeefer) October 10, 2018
The loss of Slauson is big for the Colts’ offensive line as well. He has done a good job holding down the right guard spot, and while he hasn’t been perfect, his toughness, attitude, and leadership have been important in establishing a culture on this young offensive line that stresses the importance of keeping Andrew Luck upright.
It is worth noting that the Colts asked him to stick around to be at practices and for preparation. Though he was signed to only a 1-year deal, the team wanted him to be an influencer on this roster. There is more to what has changed along this line than simply Matt Slauson’s influence, but it certainly has been something that the coaches feel is valuable.
This kind of story just goes to show what players are laying on the line out there on the football field for our entertainment. Despite the league’s best attempts to make this game safer, it is a violent sport that has long term serious effects on the human body. Some of those changes have been good for the game and others not so much.
It is hard to know if playing on a short week could contribute to this kind of injury. More than likely it is just the result of a freak accident. All the same, it is good that the story doesn’t have a much uglier end.