The hit was frightening and now Johnny Knox will undergo surgery Monday in order to stabilize a vertebra in his lower back, according to Bears officials.
The prognosis is good for career and quality of life, team spokesmen said. But it is difficult to see an injury of this magnitude not having a permanent impact on a player who faces constant threat of injury even in the normal course of a very violent sport.
The Bears wide receiver was injured while trying to recover his fumble after a first-quarter reception. He was bent backwards by a blow from Seattle Seahawks defensive end Anthony Hargrove and the game was stopped for a long period while Knox was attended to on the ground, placed on a stretcher and taken off the field slowly on a cart with his head immobilized between two pads.
It has been a difficult year for Bears wideouts, with this latest problem the worst. The Knox injury, coupled with the release of Sam Hurd after drug charges and his arrest last week, leaves the Bears with Earl Bennett, Devin Hester, Dane Sanzenbacher and Roy Williams.
Bennett missed five full games and most of a sixth after suffering an unspecified serious chest injury against New Orleans. Hester has not missed any games but has battled ankle injuries that have limited him from full-time duties at both receiver and returner.