Written by: Aseel Almatheel

Edited by: Mel Quist

In one of the biggest games in Cincinnati Bengal’s franchise history, star tight end CJ Uzomah suffered an MCL sprain late in the first quarter. Although missing one of their most important pieces, Cincinnati still managed to pull off the upset against a stacked Kansas City Chiefs team. 

Led by their franchise quarterback, Joe Burrow, also known as “Joe Shiesty,” the Cincinnati Bengals have had a historic season and will be heading to the Super Bowl for the first time in over 30 years.

Uzomah, a six-six, 260 pound tight end, is a big target for Franchise Joe and a vital piece to Cincinnati’s offense. With Uzomah on the field, the Bengals will have a better chance at defeating a loaded Los Angeles Rams team to once again beat the odds. 

An MCL sprain is a serious knee injury that can hinder anyone’s ability to perform daily tasks, but Uzomah does not plan on missing out on the big stage. 

I don’t really care too much about how I’m feeling, to be honest, when I’m out there,” Uzomah says. I’m not missing the biggest game of my life. I’m not missing it. If I wake up and I’m like, ‘Oh man, it’s a little sore,’ it doesn’t matter. Right when I get in that building, right when I put my feet on the ground, it’s go time. Let’s get this rehab going. Let’s do everything I can to make sure that I’m ready and available to play. So that’s kind of where my mind is.” 

Taking rehab pretty seriously, Uzomah is doing everything he can to make sure that he will be ready to play alongside his teammates come Super Bowl Sunday. Uzomah is no stranger to rehab and therapy. In 2020, the veteran tight end tore his achilles and worked vigorously to return this season at full capacity. Although a different injury, the mindset stays the same. 

At Insight, our orthopedic/sports medicine surgeon, Dr. Schupbach, has seen plenty of these cases and knows exactly how to help. Depending on the severity of the sprain, rehabilitation and healing time can differ from patient to patient.

Treatment options for a mild or grade 1 sprain can include:

  • 2-3 weeks to heal
  • Home therapy with a hinged knee brace

 A grade 2 sprain can include:

  • 4-6 weeks to heal
  • Physical therapy
  • The use of a hinged knee brace

According to Dr. Schupbach, there are several things that often allow athletes to return to play without surgery after they sustain an MCL injury. The first is that in contrast to some of the other ligaments in the knee, the MCL had the ability to heal well on its own. Secondly, hinged knee braces work quite well to protect the MCL while it’s healing, even during athletic activities. These things combine to allow elite athletes like Uzomah to make quick returns to the sport they love for big games.

At 29 years old and in his seventh season, Uzomah knows how hard it is to make it to this point in the NFL. Before this season, he had never even won a playoff game. He also understands how important this weekend’s game will be and wants to be out on the field with his teammates against the high-powered Rams in the Super Bowl. During Cincinnati’s rally for the fans, Uzomah ripped off his knee brace and tossed it off stage to fuel fan energy and show them how committed he is to playing in the biggest game of his life.