Watching sports the past couple weeks has been a lesson in pain. Aaron Rodgers is likely on the shelf for the season after a hit from Anthony Barr on Sunday broke his collarbone. On Tuesday night, just minutes into his debut with the Boston Celtics, All-Star Gordon Hayward suffered a gruesome dislocated ankle and fracture tibia.

Elsewhere, stars like J.J. Watt, Odell Beckham David Johnson, Eric Berry and Dalvin Cook are gone for the year, too.

So what happens when a team loses a prominent player? The results can be mixed. Sometimes, the disaster scenario happens. Sometimes, it's not nearly as bad as initially feared. Sometimes, the season even ends up better than ever.

Here's how some of the other infamous early season injuries to stars have played out over time.


Drew Bledsoe, 2001

The injury: Bledsoe was one of the NFL's highest-paid talents after signing a record 10-year, $103 million deal in March 2001. But in the second game of the season that fall, he suffered a sheared blood vessel in his chest that could have been deadly. The injury cleared the way for an unknown sixth-round pick named Tom Brady to emerge as a star in Bledsoe's wake.

What happened next: Bledsoe did return that season, briefly replacing Brady in the AFC title game win over Pittsburgh. But Brady and coach Bill Belichick won the first of five Super Bowls, upsetting the Rams' Greatest Show on Turf as 14-point underdogs.

Martin Brodeur, 2008-09

The injury: The New Jersey Devils goalie suffered atorn distal biceps tendon in the 10th game of the year and missed almost four months, returning in late February.

What happened next: The Devils managed without their legend in the net. The previous season, they were only 46-29-7, but despite missing Brodeur for more than half the season, they went 51-27-4 in 2008-09, won the Atlantic Division and finished third in the East. However, the No. 6 seed Carolina Hurricanes upset the Devils in the first round of the playoffs.

Braxton Miller, 2014

The injury: Miller, a two-time Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year, suffered a shoulder injury in preseason camp and took a medical redshirt.

What happened next: J.T. Barrett grew into a star as a redshirt freshman, leading the Buckeyes to a Big Ten title before breaking his leg in the season finale against Michigan. Cardale Jones stepped in behind Barrett and led Urban Meyer's team to wins over Wisconsin, Alabama and Oregon to win the program's first national title since 2002.


Michael Jordan, 1986-87

The injury: After winning Rookie of the Year honors, MJ broke his foot in the third game of the year and missed 64 games.

What happened next: The Bulls were 38-44 a year earlier, but went 30-52 while missing a young Jordan for most of the season. They got lucky and made became a playoff team with one of the worst records in NBA history, and Jordan scored 63 points in Game 2, but the Celtics swept the Bulls.

Frank Thomas, 2001

The injury: Thomas' father died, and a few days later, he announced he'd be undergoing season-ending shoulder surgery. He called it the worst week of his life, and The Big Hurt played just 20 games that season.

What happened next: The White Sox won the AL Central in 2000 and went 95-67 before getting swept in the ALDS. In 2001, without Thomas, they finished third in the AL Central, going 83-79 and missing the playoffs.

Barry Bonds, 2005

The injury: The home run champion was in the midst of a steroids scandal, but multiple knee surgeries kept him out of 148 games that season, playing just 14. He'd never played fewer than 102 games in any other season in his career.

What happened next: The Giants were 91-71 in 2004 with Bonds and finished second in the NL West. In 2005, San Francisco went just 75-87 and finished third in their division, missing the playoffs again.

Tom Brady, 2008

The injury: Minutes into the season opener, Chiefs safety Bernard Pollard dove at Brady's knee and tore his ACL and MCL, ending his season and his streak of 111 consecutive starts.

What happened next: Belichick moved Matt Cassel into a starting role and still managed to go 11-5 and shared an AFC East title with the Miami Dolphins, making Cassel one of the league's most coveted free agents. However, the Dolphins held the tiebreaker and the Patriots missed out on the wild card, becoming the first 11-win team to miss the playoffs since the league expanded the playoffs to 12 teams in 1990.


Paul George, 2014-15

The injury: George suffered a compound fracture in both bones in his right leg during training camp for the FIBA World Basketball Cup. He landed awkwardly at the base of the hoop during a scrimmage in Las Vegas.

What happened next: George came back sooner than expected and played the final six games of the season, but the Pacers, who were 56-26 and the East's No. 1 seed the year before, finished 38-44 and narrowly missed the playoffs without the star.

Jamaal Charles, 2011

The injury: Charles ran for 1,467 yards in 2010 and 1,509 in 2012, but only reached 83 yards in two games before suffering a torn ACL in 2011.

What happened next: The Chiefs were 10-6 in 2010 but struggled without Charles in 2011. Coach Todd Haley was fired after a 5-8 start and Kansas City finished 7-9 and missed the playoffs. Worse yet, they gave Romeo Crennel the full-time job. He went 4-15 before being fired after the 2012 season.


David Robinson, 1996-97

The injury: Robinson won the MVP in 1995, but two seasons later, suffered a preseason back injury. Then, six games into his December return, he broke his foot and missed the rest of the season.

What happened next: The Spurs stumbled from 59-23 in 1995-96 to just 20-62 without The Admiral. Vinny Del Negro and Chuck Person also missed time, and after a 3-15 start, the Spurs fired Bob Hill and replaced him with Gregg Popovich, who had been working as the franchise's GM and VP of basketball operations. The disastrous season also helped the Spurs win the lottery and draft Tim Duncan, igniting two decades of a Spurs dynasty that featured five titles.

Peyton Manning, 2011

The injury: Manning signed a 5-year, $90 million deal in July 2011, but after seeing his arm strength diminish, doctors told him he needed spinal fusion surgery that could end his career. He was out for the year and no one knew if he'd play again. He underwent a second surgery on Sept. 8.

What happened next: The Colts tanked, fully embracing the Suck For Luck campaign, going 2-14 with Curtis Painter, Kerry Collins and Dan Orlovsky at quarterback. Everyone ended up OK, though. The Colts got their new franchise quarterback (well, for awhile anyway) and Manning successfully recovered and played four more seasons in Denver, reaching two Super Bowls and winning one.