Performance and Survivorship of National Football League Players with Pectoralis Major Injuries

Blake M. Bodendorfer, Steven F. DeFroda, Henry T. Shu, Derrick M. Knapik, Daniel S. Yang, Nikhil N. Verma

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Purpose: The purpose of this study was to determine return-to-play (RTP), performance and career survivorship for National Football League (NFL) athletes sustaining pectoralis major (PM) injuries with comparison among grades of injury and between nonoperative and operative management. Methods: Publicly available data from the 1998–2020 NFL seasons were reviewed to identify athletes with PM injuries. Athlete characteristics were collected 1 season before and 2 seasons after injury. Percent of total games played in a season, player efficiency rating (PER), and Pro Football Focus (PFF) grades were compared for the preinjury season and 2 postinjury seasons. Kaplan-Meier survivorship plots were computed for RTP and postinjury career length, whereas a log-rank test was used to compare survivorship differences. Results: In total, 258 PM injuries were reported at a mean age of 27.1 ± 3.3 years. A total of 126 surgical repairs occurred in 48.8% (n = 126) of injuries, with athletes undergoing repair possessing a lower RTP rate and longer time to RTP compared to athletes treated conservatively (P <.001). Survival analysis revealed shorter career length for athletes sustaining PM tears compared to strains (P <.001), although no difference in career length was appreciated on the basis of injury management (P =.980). Defensive linemen and wide receivers had lower PER during their second postinjury seasons (P =.019 and.030, respectively), whereas defensive linemen had lower PFF grades during their second post-injury seasons (P =.044). Conclusion: NFL athletes requiring PM repair may experience a lower likelihood of RTP, and longer RTP timing, likely because of higher-grade injuries. Defensive linemen and wide receivers experiencing PM injuries are at risk for diminished performance post-injury. Career length does not appear to be affected based on injury management. Level of Evidence: Level III, cohort study.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)e1097-e1104
JournalArthroscopy, Sports Medicine, and Rehabilitation
Issue number4
StatePublished - Aug 2021


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