Forget UGGs, the clear fashion trend this winter is the walking boot popularized by countless
NFL playersfashionistas hobbled by various leg and foot injuries. In the Bay Area alone, Raiders players Darren McFadden, Jacoby Ford, and Denarius Moore, as well as the Niners' Michael Crabtree have all sported the boot at some point during the season.
Perhaps I'm out of touch with the wonders of modern sports medicine, but I feel like the term walking boot wasn't even en vogue in the NFL until recently. Gone are the days of athletic tape, so you better sell your stock in ACE bandage because in today's NFL it seems like any player that suffers an injury ends up in a walking boot in hopes of a speedier recovery. The things are so wildly popular, they have even become collectibles and memorabilia (see inset).
In fact, the emergence of the walking boot may have coincided with the ever popular sports injury known as the "high ankle sprain." I rolled my ankle plenty of times playing basketball, never was I aware that my ankle could travel up my leg. This also begs the question, if you have cankles can you get a high ankle sprain? Are NFL linemen immune to such injuries? With the number of star caliber players sporting this specialty footwear over the years, from Brady to Roethlisberger to Adrian Peterson, you'd think those boots were made from molded plastic cooled by water from the fountain of youth.
Michael Crabtree's walking boot w/ 49er team autographs
However, the use of the boot is not without some controversy, as a 2009 article from Medical News Today points out:
"Thus we recommend the use of a 10-day below knee cast for the management of severe ankle sprains, or alternatively, an Aircast brace. Neither tubular compression bandage nor the Bledsoe boot are recommended."
The findings suggest that the walking boot, or Bledsoe boot as it's called in the study, may not be the best choice, and I'm inclined to agree if not for the simple fact that the boot shares its namesake with Drew Bledsoe, a quarterback who forever lost his starting job to Tom Brady after getting injured. If that's not bad juju, then I don't know what is.
If you ask me, science needs to take things a step further and create a full body boot to help players recover more quickly. Nintendo has already presented the prototype with its popular Super Mario Bros. franchise.
Mario's status for Week 13 is questionable
Or maybe, instead of having players wear a walking boot, have them drink from Das Boot. Sure the ligaments and tendons won't mend faster, but at least the tremendous amounts of beer will have an analgesic effect for the pain, and you know midweek press conferences will be A LOT more entertaining.