A Freak Football Injury Left A High School Quarterback An Amputee. Now, He’s Making His Comeback.

  • Dan Fogarty

On September 3rd, 2011, Jacob Rainey was a 17-year-old high school quarterback from Virginia with 4.6 40 speed and interest from college coaches. A week later, he’d be laid up in a hospital bed, his right leg amputated just above the knee.

The New York Times Magazine has published their story Rainey, his injury, and his attempt at a comeback. And unless your son, brother, or best friend is quarterbacking a team this year, we’ve found a high school signal caller we think you need to root for.

First, the injury, which sounds horrific. On a designed quarterback run, he was tackled around the legs by a defender. As he fought for more yards, he heard a pop — then things went blank. His school’s trainer can still hear the screams.

Teammates began to cry. At least one felt ill. Johnson stayed at Rainey’s side. Knee dislocations are associated with severed arteries and blood loss, potentially life-threatening injuries, which the Raineys would soon learn. The poplit­eal artery in Jacob’s leg had been ruptured, cutting off circulation to his lower limb.

The Raineys are currently consulting a lawyer and declined to go into detail about what happened at the two hospitals Jacob was taken to right after his injury. Needless to say, after multiple operations, his leg couldn’t be saved. It was gone in a week, and it was gone because of football.

After months in that hospital bed — Jacob watched game tape from his injury, and he’s not sure why — he started his recovery process. After some rehab that wasn’t going anywhere, he met with David Lawrence, a physical therapist, and Joe Sullivan, a below-the-knee amputee who became a prosthetist, to come up with a plan.

In August, with a modified prosthetic and after months of therapy, he was working out with his old offensive coordinator. And although there are still questions — about his mobility and ability to take a hit, mainly — he still has a tight spiral. Whether or not he starts (or plays) for Woodberry Forest this year is still not clear. But reading about where the kid has been, compared to where he is now, is reason enough to call this a successful comeback. Be sure to check out the Times’ full story here.

[NY Times, h/t SB Nation]