With New England Patriots starting center David Andrews recently being diagnosed with blood clots in his lungs and currently undergoing treatment for the issue, memories of a former Patriot naturally come to mind: like Andrews now, Antonio Garcia has been down this same road as well, and it unfortunately turned a once promising career into one of many medical questions and ultimately an uncertain future.
After a four-year career as Troy’s starting left tackle, Garcia entered the NFL draft as a highly regarded developmental prospect. As such, the Patriots had him on their radar as a potential heir to long-term starter Nate Solder. On the second day of the 2017 draft, they saw their chance: New England traded two draft picks to the Detroit Lions to move up to the 85th overall selection and invest a third-round pick in Garcia.
His rookie career was projected to be quiet: with Solder and Marcus Cannon as the undisputed starters at left and right tackle, respectively, Garcia was expected to serve as a third or fourth swing option that would see little actual playing time. However, his rookie year — and by extension career — quickly took a turn for the worse when he was diagnosed with blood clots in his lungs. What followed was a year-long odyssey.
The Patriots placed Garcia on the non-football injury list in early September, ending his first season in the league before he had played even a single snap of competitive football. While his on-field career was put on hold, the treatment in the background continued: Garcia received blood thinners to dissolve the arterial blockage in his lungs, which in turn led to him losing more than 40 pounds. He was ultimately able to start working out again, though.
Despite the apparent process, however, the Patriots parted ways with Garcia in May 2018. The team released him with a non-football injury designation a little more than a year after drafting him. The New York Jets subsequently picked him up on waivers, and actually were able to get some playing time out of him: Garcia appeared in all four of the team’s preseason games as a reserve offensive tackle, but he was released again during cutdowns.
Garcia was out of football for the next two months, before the Indianapolis Colts signed him to their practice squad. He spent the remainder of the season with his new team, and signed a futures contract after its campaign had come to an end in January. Entering 2019, however, Garcia suffered another setback — although no direct tie to his medical history was reported: the 25-year-old was suspended for the first four weeks of the regular season for violating the NFL’s policy against performance-enhancing drugs.
Garcia’s future is very much in question at this point, with his career so far being marked by disappointment. Of course, it is needless to say that no two situations are alike and that Andrews’ future could very well look a lot differently. What the recent diagnosis and Garcia’s previous medial issues show us, however, is that things can change quickly in the NFL and in life in general. Nothing is granted, even for superstar athletes.