“I bruised my spinal cord, I was paralyzed for three hours”: Ex-Broncos, Ravens’ Derek Wolfe recalls scary injury time in his career

American football is known for its intense physicality and the NFL is considered to be one of the most challenging leagues in the sport. The toll on players’ bodies is often severe. The injuries can end careers abruptly. However, there are a few players who have overcome devastating injuries to return to the field. One such player is a former NFL star, Derek Wolfe who battled paralysis for 180 minutes but returned to play for the Denver Broncos just two weeks later. 

This remarkable feat demonstrates the resilience and determination of professional athletes. Derek Wolfe retired from the NFL in 2022 at the age of 32. In a recent interview, he shared the extent of the injuries he sustained during his career. 

Wolfe revealed that he had double hip surgeries and tore the labrums off the bone. His injuries were so severe that he considers himself lucky to have walked away from the sport on his own terms.

Wolfe’s most serious injury occurred in 2013 during a preseason game against the Seattle Seahawks. He suffered a bruised spinal cord and was paralyzed for three hours. 

Despite the severity of his injury, the Broncos cleared him to play just two weeks later. And Wolfe returned to the field. He described the experience as “miserable,” with his arms going numb every time he was touched.

“I had double hip surgeries. I tore the labrums off the bone. The injuries I had while I was in the NFL was just out of control,” he said on The Joe Rogan Experience podcast. “[In] 2013, I bruised my spinal cord. I was paralyzed for three hours and then I played two weeks later.”


Derek Wolfe suffered a seizure 

Derek Wolfe

Wolfe also revealed that 12 weeks after his injury, he suffered a seizure. He went into a coma for 36 hours. He attributed the seizure to his bruised spinal cord, which prevented fresh blood from reaching his brain. Wolfe expressed frustration with the Broncos’ handling of his injury. He claimed that they downplayed it as a stinger.

“They told me it was a stinger,” Wolfe said. “You know when you have a big warehouse and you flip the lights off, they come right off, but when you turn them on it takes them a while to turn back on. That’s when I realized they don’t care about us.”

Despite the challenges he faced, Wolfe continued to play for the Broncos until 2020 when he signed with the Ravens for his final NFL season. 

He concluded his career with a one-day contract in Denver the following summer. His resilience in the face of adversity is a testament to the dedication and determination required to succeed at the highest level of professional sports.

Maheen Zaib

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Maheen is a writer for SportsZion. She's your go-to for all things NFL, from epic game highlights to trade scoops and breaking news. Navigating the sports scene with flair, join her on this thrilling journey through the NFL's wild ride. Let's score some great reads together!


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