St. Louis Rams cornerback Ron Bartell thought he had a stinger. It was more than that, and suffice it to say that Bartell is fortunate to be moving after injuring his neck against the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday. A closer look at Bartell's stinger revealed a fracture in Bartell's neck. The injury probably heralds the end of Bartell's season, and it might mean the end of his career.
Tony Softli from 101 ESPN broached the career-threatening possibility on the web today. Precedent suggests he might be right.
You really cannot overstate the serious of an injury like Bartell's. In September 2006, Bengals LB David Pollack fractured a vertebrae in his neck. It ended his season, and he aborted his comeback bid in the spring of 2008. Texans DT Cedric Killings suffered a similar injury in 2007, fracturing a vertebrae in his neck in September of that season (something about September and fractured necks). A fractured vertebrae ended Rich Gannon's career in September of 2004.
Unlike Killings and Pollack, Bartell did not leave the field on a stretcher. The extent of Bartell's injury is still being determined, according to reports, but precedent suggests that the likelihood of his return this season or beyond is very much in doubt.
I can't tell you how much this hurts to think about as a fan. Bartell is one of the more underrated corners in the league, and a cornerstone of the Rams defense.
UPDATE: Bartell is officially done for 2011, according to Jim Thomas of the Post-Dispatch. The report also contains some more information on the severity of Bartell's injury. The C7 vertebrae in his lower neck has two fractures, but it is not displaced. He'll be in a neck brace for some time and spend most of the next year in rehab. He will not need surgery, and that's a very good thing. Players can come back from such an injury, so keep an eye on Bartell.