While the New England Patriots and the Philadelphia Eagles are preparing for the final game of the 2017 NFL season, Super Bowl LII, the rest of the league is already on to 2018. Among them are the Patriots' division rivals from Buffalo, who will try to improve on their 9-7 record and first playoff berth of the 21st century. However, it appears that they will have to do so without their starting center.
As first reported by SCOUT Fantasy Sports and since confirmed by other reporters, Eric Wood sustained a career-ending neck injury:
Our sources that have led us here have informed us it’s a career ending neck injury and the player is former Louisville Cardinal and current @BuffaloBills center Eric Wood. Our heart goes out to him, his family and former and current teammates.
A follow-up tweet by ESPN's Adam Schefter notes that the injury is partially the result of wear and tear:
Bills’ center Eric Wood’s career-ending neck injury is partly due to wear and tear, but one source characterized it as a “complicated medical situation.”
This is obviously a big blow for Buffalo. Wood has been a tremendous player since joining the team as a first round draft pick in 2009. The 31-year old was the anchor of the team's offensive line since then, starting 120 games. He was voted to the Pro Bowl two years ago and in 2017 signed a two-year, $16 million contract extension to stay with the Bills for the foreseeable future.
However, the on-field impact of the neck issue is the secondary news here. What is more important is that Wood receives the treatment he needs to ensure his post-football life will not see any limitations due to the injury. We wish Eric Wood all the best for this and for his future endeavours away from the gridiron!
UPDATE: Wood released a statement regarding his injury:
I was diagnosed with a neck injury as part of my season-ending physical with the Bills. After consultation with Dr. Cappuccino and other physicians, I was informed that I was no longer cleared to play football, even with surgery or further treatment.
I appreciate and thank everyone for their thoughts, concerns and prayers, and I will shed more light on the situation in a press conference on Monday at the team facility.