On Nov. 11, Purdue quarterback Elijah Sindelar tore the ACL in his left knee during a loss to Northwestern. But when coach Jeff Brohm suggested the sophomore take a seat on the bench, Sindelar asked to stay on the field. Wearing a brace on his knee, Sindelar finished the game against the Wildcats, then played the final two contests of Purdue’s regular season schedule.
Then on Wednesday, he completed 33 of 53 passes for 396 yards and four touchdowns in the Boilermakers’ victory over Arizona in the Foster Farms Bowl, earning MVP honors.
After the game, Brohm revealed Sindelar’s injury, to the surprise of everyone who had watched him tear apart the Arizona secondary. Via Gold and Black:
“I was very leery at first, but Elijah wanted to do it and everything went through our trainers and doctor, and he was able to pull it off,” Brohm said. “For somebody to play almost four games with that, three and a half, that’s amazing. I couldn’t be A, prouder of his performance but to perform with that serious of an injury? How many people can do that? It’s less than 1 percent.”
Now, we should note that Sindelar’s ACL tear was presumably less dramatic than the ones that leave players curled up in a ball on the field. And we should also caution that playing through an ACL tear is going to be a poor idea more often than not, so you probably shouldn’t try this at home. But whether or not Sindelar’s decision to play was wise, it must take some remarkable mental and physical strength to perform at that level with that kind of injury.
Sindelar, who was Purdue’s backup until starter David Blough suffered a season-ending ankle injury, will reportedly undergo surgery this week and look toward a return in fall 2018. Then maybe we’ll find out what he can do with a functional ACL.