NFL Injury Replacement Details Who Became a Star

Injuries to other players opened the doors to the Pro Bowls and Hall of Fame for many NFL stars. Here are 25 notable injured replacements who made the most of their opportunities and went on to have successful careers.

Mike Anderson

Terrell Davis played for Denver in the 2000 season opener after having his 1999 season cut short by ACL and MCL tears. Olandis Gary, a 1999 Davis sub, also did so. Both games were lost by the Broncos in a shootout loss in St. Louis. Gary suffered an ACL tear, and Davis’ slide persisted with an ankle injury. This called up Anderson, a sixth-round rookie who had been in the military, who was 27 years old. 1,487 running yards, 15 touchdowns, and Offensive Rookie of the Year recognition in Anderson’s 2000 season. Anderson made a comeback in 2005 to lead the 13-3 Broncos in rushing after serving as a fullback for Clinton Portis for a while (1,014 yards, 12 TDs). Anderson played eight seasons, yet not one that stands out.

Tom Brady

Terrell Davis played for Denver in the 2000 season opener after having his 1999 season cut short by ACL and MCL tears. Olandis Gary, a 1999 Davis sub, also did so. Both games were lost by the Broncos in a shootout loss in St. Louis. Gary suffered an ACL tear, and Davis’ slide persisted with an ankle injury. This called up Anderson, a sixth-round rookie who had been in the military, who was 27 years old. 1,487 running yards, 15 touchdowns, and Offensive Rookie of the Year recognition in Anderson’s 2000 season. Anderson made a comeback in 2005 to lead the 13-3 Broncos in rushing after serving as a fullback for Clinton Portis for a while (1,014 yards, 12 TDs). Anderson played eight seasons, yet not one that stands out.

Todd Christensen

Christensen, a collegiate fullback who didn’t remain with the Cowboys or Giants, joined a squad that was enthusiastic about reclamation efforts. But it took him three seasons before he was a regular starter. Derrick Ramsey led the Raiders in receptions in 1981, but a year later, an injury forced the team to switch tight ends. The Raiders traded Ramsey in 1983 when Christensen took over. Christensen became into the team’s top target over the following five seasons (and go-to interview). The talkative tight end won the job and went on to lead the NFL in catches in 1983 and 1986. He also won a Super Bowl ring and appeared in five straight Pro Bowls.

Victor Cruz

The Giants faced a vacancy in the slot as a result of Steve Smith’s 2011 free agency departure. On the team’s depth chart for 2011, Domenik Hixon was ahead of Cruz, but after the return man tore an ACL, Cruz put together one of the most unexpected seasons in NFL history. The undrafted free agent from 2010 amassed 1,536 yards and nine touchdowns, and for years, his end zone dance routines were a staple. Cruz participated in the 2012 Pro Bowl, helped the Giants win the Super Bowl, and agreed to a five-year, $43 million agreement. Cruz’s career was derailed in 2014 by a devastating knee injury, but he used his 2011 breakthrough to become famous.

Brett Favre

The Giants’ slot was empty following Steve Smith’s 2011 free agency departure. Domenik Hixon had been ahead of Cruz on the team’s depth chart going into 2011, but after the return man tore an ACL, Cruz put together one of the most unexpected NFL seasons in memory. The undrafted free agent from 2010 amassed 1,536 yards and nine touchdowns, and his end zone salsa dances were adopted as standard for many years. Cruz got a five-year, $43 million agreement, was selected for the 2012 Pro Bowl, and assisted the Giants in winning the Super Bowl. Cruz’s career was derailed in 2014 by a catastrophic knee injury, but he rose to fame after breaking through in 2011.

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