Kansas City Chiefs quarterback and reigning NFL MVP Patrick Mahomes clearly has one of the brighter futures of any professional athlete in any sport. His first full season as a starter led to 5,000+ yards passing and 50 touchdowns.
Mahomes picked up right where he left off this season, with one notable difference: he has been playing with a high ankle sprain since Week 1 when he injured it during the Chief’s win against the Jacksonville Jaguars. Mahomes then re-injured his ankle in the team’s Week 5 loss to the Colts, but it was what happened a week and a half later that changed things.
Against the Broncos Week 7 on Thursday night, Mahomes injured his right knee. According to reports, he suffered a patella dislocation, and did not return to the game.
Medical Analyst Has Warning for Mahomes, Chiefs
While some are calling the results of Mahomes’ MRI a best-case scenario for the Chiefs, others aren’t so sure it’s the best course of action to send Mahomes back out to play through his injuries this season. Dr. David J. Chao, a sports medical analyst also known as the Pro Football Doc, noted that while it is possible for Mahomes to come back and play on a previously dislocated knee without surgery, there’s a good deal of risk involved if he does:
“For those saying Patrick Mahomes should not have run a sneak with his high ankle injury, returning to play without surgery on a dislocated kneecap is possible but much riskier,” Chao tweeted.
Chao also noted that while he has not examined Mahomes personally, he has seen enough knee dislocations in professional athletes to understand that the risk of re-injury without surgery first is a very real one.
Chao elaborated further, saying that rehab and a knee brace will help Mahomes play, but he also noted that the risk of re-dislocation would be “high”:
“The injury is a tear of the medial patellofemoral ligament (MPFL). Most times for professional athletes, this requires surgery, as the kneecap becomes unstable. It is possible to try to rehab and return this season with a brace and delay surgery until the offseason, but that is not a plan that comes with guarantees. It is possible to return in three to four weeks after swelling subsides and strength returns. But even with a brace, the risk of re-dislocation is high, and the risk of subluxaton (slipping transiently out of groove) is even higher.”
Mahomes will likely miss approximately three games while he rehabs his knee. Chao noted that Mahomes can definitely play yet this season, but because he’s not a traditional pocket passer, he will have to alter his game in order to limit the risks associated with dislocated knee caps.
According to Chao, Mahomes’ best and safest bet could be to undergo season-ending surgery now, in order to make sure he doesn’t do more serious or permanent damage to his knee. But if he were to re-dislocate his knee and tear off some articular cartilage, “that could affect his career in the long term.” And no one, particularly the Chiefs, wants that.
Regardless of Chao’s warnings, Mahomes is a competitor, and the Chiefs season may depend on him. He will most certainly play. Hopefully, another best-case scenario allows him to do so without further–and more serious–damage to his knee.