Niles Paul, a tight end for the Washington football team, sustained a dislocated ankle on Thursday, ending his 2015 campaign on the opening night of the preseason.
It was terribly unfortunate, but sometimes we as football fans forget how terribly unfortunate it truly is.
Washington fullback Darrel Young offered a brutal reminder, though, sharing his exchange with Paul on the field. According to ESPN’s John Keim, Young said Paul greeted him with an expletive and continued:
“I broke it! I know I did, I know I did!”
Young said he told Paul to not worry about the break and instead focus on coming back in six-to-eight weeks. However, Paul responded, right before he started crying:
“No, I broke it. This is supposed to be my year.”
Paul had recently supplanted Jordan Reed on the depth chart and seemed primed for a breakout season. A converted receiver, Paul has the ability to create a mismatch if defenses don’t respect either his physicality or speed.
But after Thursday, the Nebraska product doesn’t have the chance to establish himself as Washington’s No. 1 tight end.
Forget about the impact Paul could’ve had on a fantasy football team. It doesn’t matter that he earns mid-six figures for playing a game. A 26-year-old dislocated his ankle and can’t continue at his job—literally hours after receiving a promotion.
Hopefully Paul can rehab and return to full strength, then perhaps he’ll re-overtake Reed on the depth chart. But right now, it’s a terribly unfortunate situation for Paul, one of Young’s best friend and an athlete we had a chance to see live his dream.
The subtle reminder that athletes aren’t robots should cause us to be heartbroken for him. Niles Paul. The human. That’s the terribly unfortunate takeaway from his injury.