The San Francisco 49ers and their team doctor have described Jerry Rice's fractured left kneecap as a fluke, but other doctors say it might not have been a coincidence.
"The fact that he had surgery may have weakened the original knee and made him more predisposed to injury," said Dr. Arthur Ting, an orthopedic specialist for the San Jose Sharks.
Rice, 35, underwent surgery Tuesday to repair the broken kneecap. He was injured when he fell hard on his surgically repaired knee after catching a touchdown pass in San Francisco's 34-17 victory over Denver on Monday night. Team physician Michael Dillingham performed both operations.
Rice originally tore two ligaments and damaged cartilage in the knee during San Francisco's Aug. 31 season opener at Tampa Bay.
Dr. James Garrick from the Center for Sports Medicine at San Francisco's St. Mary's Hospital said a broken kneecap is one of the risk factors in the aftermath of reconstructive knee surgery using a bone graft. "Yes, he's completed rehab, but his graft has to mature and get its own blood supply," Garrick said. "Kneecap fractures are one of the complications that can happen."