San Francisco 49ers tight end George Kittle recently revealed that he has been playing the past two seasons with a torn labrum in his shoulder.
Refusing to receive the proper treatment due to the possibility it could jeopardize his play, Kittle has shown real dedication to his craft.
Since entering the league as a fifth-round pick out of Iowa, Kittle has seen a massive rise to stardom in his tenure with the 49ers.
The conversation for a best tight end in the NFL has strictly revolved around Kittle and a man he will go against in the Super Bowl this Sunday — Travis Kelce of the Kansas City Chiefs.
Both have been dominant factors for their respective teams, but if Kittle is indeed playing through a severe injury like this, he could be placed in a whole different category with the numbers he has put up.
Kittle claims he tore the labrum along with dislocating his shoulder in a preseason game against the Dallas Cowboys in 2018. Ever since then, the tight end has been on an absolute tear for this dominant San Francisco offense.
Recording 1,000-plus yards in both 2018 (1,377) and 2019 (1,053), and setting the single-season record for a tight end’s receiving yards in that 2018 season, Kittle’s injury has appeared nonexistent.
However, Kittle claims the injury is a “full tear,” making it miraculous he has been able to play this long at such a high level. The tight end claims that he does feel pain from time to time in the shoulder, and his protective grey sleeve can help minimize it.
Despite the pain, Kittle has assured that he will not be getting surgery to fix it anytime soon for several reasons. Speaking on the Pardon My Take podcast, the 26-year old’s primary answer was, “I can’t miss those workout days, man.”
Dedicated as he may be, Kittle is taking a considerable risk playing through such a severe injury.
Going into more detail about his urgency to play, although injured, Kittle spoke of the toughness he learned from his father and his college.
"“A lot of it comes from my dad. He played for Hayden Fry University in the ’80s. He used to tell me about the injuries he played with. One time he tore his ACL in Week 6 and then played in the Rose Bowl in Week 12. So, if he could do that, I could do anything. And playing at Iowa for five years; it’s a mental toughness thing. Your best ability is availability, and if you’re not on the field, they can’t use you, and you can’t play.”"
The tight end clearly has an endless passion for the game, willing to play with such an injury and hold off on fixing it to help his team succeed now.
Although the labrum is no joke, Kittled added, “It’s something that if I need surgery, it can wait until I’m done playing football.”
Contributing everything he has to this San Francisco team daily is all the tight end cares about right now.
With a Super Bowl to play on Sunday, George Kittle no doubt has his eyes set on a victory and will do whatever it takes to achieve it.