Quarterbacks are generally considered fragile and prone to injury.

Of course some of this is related to the vulnerability related to getting blindsided while they are throwing the ball. However, this injury concern extends to when they are expecting the hit or running with the ball - to the point that we expect the QB to slide in open field. During training camp they wear a special jersey to indicate "don't hit me!".

I used to think this was because QB's were smaller, but not so sure. They are not as built like a linebacker, but they are often bigger the a WR.

So why is it that QB's are more prone to injury and carry the stigma of being fragile?

  • The different jerseys in camp are generally worn by quarterbacks because people would have a free shot on them. There really isn't any player at almost any level of football that is allowed to be hit freely without a chance of retaliation. If you are scrimmaging and the quarterback throws the ball over the middle the DBs from the same team do not headhunt the WRs on a high throw. In fact I am coaching a younger team now and if you hit our quarterback he gets to line up and tackle you - and he would lay every kid out. It is about safety but fairness too.
    – Coach-D
    Sep 27 '19 at 22:17

Quarterbacks are not more prone to injury. According to a Washington Post Article, a QB is injured once every 236 plays, while running backs and wide receivers are injured on average every 50-80 plays.

Another way to measure the injury chance is the number of players on injured reserve: which also shows that being QB is one of the safer positions.

Reasons why QBs are not injured as often as other players are

  • Half the team is actively blocking to protect the QB
  • Rules restrict how and when the QB can be tackled
  • The QB usually tries to protect himself, e.g. by sliding

But if a quarterback does get injured, the team's fortunes usually suffer. The QB is involved in every offensive play, needs to make critical throws and also make on-field decisions about plays, so an injured quarterback is a major issue for the team.

  • 2
    Not specifically related to injuries, per se, but the running back has the shortest career lifespan in the NFL, followed by the wide receiver. static03.mediaite.com/sportsgrid/uploads/2014/03/…
    – user527
    Sep 5 '14 at 13:08
  • @edmastermind29 That's interesting, but probably an example of statistics misused. RBs as a group have a short career lifespan in part because a lot of RBs are drafted to play special teams; RBs and LBs are the most 'flexible' body types (typically big-but-not-huge, somewhat fast, and athletic) and thus getting a few years out of a undrafted or late-round RB is a good way to build up your team cheaply. I don't think it's solely due to fragility or injury likelihood (OL have a higher likelihood there, I think).
    – Joe
    Sep 5 '14 at 14:33
  • @Joe Not sure how those statistics are misused as I clearly state "not specifically related to injuries." There are other factors, like how often a player is used and how often the player engages in physical contact (tackling, getting tackled, blocking, getting blocked, etc.), and this takes place on special teams often (safety was a reason the NFL kickoff is at the 35 yard line and only two players can make a wedge to block). Anyway, you are accurate in the statements you make. Also, as another factor, not everyone has a 10-year career. A player may be cut and not signed to another team.
    – user527
    Sep 5 '14 at 14:43
  • I didn't mean you were misusing them, I meant the presentation by whomever made them. A comment isn't enough space to detail that I guess :) Combining starting-level talent with practice squad level talent is what i'm objecting to.
    – Joe
    Sep 5 '14 at 14:52
  • 1
    @edmastermind29. While the lifespan chart is interesting and probably quite relevant to the question, the article about Mendenhall makes a big mistake in comparing his 6 years in the NFL at retirement to the average experience of ACTIVE players. It would be better to compare him to other retired players.
    – Fillet
    Sep 5 '14 at 15:13

For most teams, the quarterback is the most valuable player on the team. The offense is completely built around his abilities. Almost any player on the team is easier to replace than the quarterback.

The quarterback holds the ball in every offensive play of every game. As a result, he is a target for tackling on every play, more than any other player.

It's not that the quarterback is more fragile, it's that he is more valuable, harder to replace, and has more opportunities to get hurt than the other players.

  • This doesn't answer the question.
    – Coach-D
    Sep 27 '19 at 22:13
  • @Coach-D How so? I think it answers the question fairly well. Sep 27 '19 at 22:15
  • Well because they aren't more prone to injuries based on data.
    – Coach-D
    Sep 27 '19 at 22:17
  • Yes, I see the stats listed in the other answer. I’m not disputing that in my answer. I wasn’t making a judgement on whether the question’s premise has validity or not. The question itself isn’t even making a statistical claim; it is making a perception claim. It says, “QBs are generally considered fragile and prone to injury.” This statement could be true even if the statistics do not show that QBs actually get injured more often. Next, the question mentions the QBs unique ability to slide and the special jersey warn in training camp (both supporting the OP’s first point). Sep 27 '19 at 22:27
  • @Coach-D Yes, the statistics show the QB getting hurt less often than other positions, but this is in part due to the protections that are already in place for him (special rules that reduce injury for the QB). These rules were put there for a reason, and the OP’s question is ultimately asking about why, which both my answer and the other answer address well, in my opinion. Sep 27 '19 at 22:30

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.