Return to Sport After ACL Reconstruction in NFL Quarterbacks

Return to Sport After ACL Reconstruction in NFL Quarterbacks

Besides concussions, ACL tears are the most commonly discussed injury in professional football. When I would watch games with my father as a child and we saw a player go down with a later diagnosed ACL tear, my dad would always say that the player’s career just ended on that play. However, that isn’t entirely true, especially at the elite levels. In professional sports, your probability of returning to the level of competition you were at before the injury occurred is excellent.

In a study done in 2014, a group of physicians were interested in observing:

  • return to sport rate in NFL Quarterbacks
  • performance upon return to sport
  • difference between those who underwent ACL reconstruction and healthy quarterbacks performance

13 NFL Quarterbacks we’re observed after having an ACL reconstruction surgery and were matched with controls (healthy quarterbacks) of similar BMI, performance, and NFL experience.

In this study, they found that:

1. 12/13 NFL Quarterbacks were able to return to sport (92%)
2. There was no significant difference between player performance at pre-injury levels compared to post reconstruction levels
3. There was also no significant difference in performance between those that had ACL reconstruction and their control group counterpart

Bottom Line: There is a high rate of return to sport in the NFL following ACL reconstruction, especially in this case regarding NFL Quarterbacks.

While this is true of performance of those already in the NFL, check our series covering the NFL combine this week and some pre-draft concerns that we have for individual players!


  • Erickson, B. J., Harris, J. D., Heninger, J. R., Frank, R., Bush-Joseph, C. A., Verma, N. N., … & Bach, B. R. (2014). Performance and return-to-sport after ACL reconstruction in NFL quarterbacks. Orthopedics, 37(8), e728-e734.

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