Micah Parsons won the Associated Press Defensive Rookie of the Year award this past season in one of the best rookie campaigns for a defensive player in league history. Parsons, who almost broke the rookie record for most sacks in a season, revealed he played the entire year on a hyperextended knee -- playing through the pain all year.
Parsons suffered the injury in training camp and never looked back.
"It was at a point where I was like, 'I'm in a position battle. I'm going against Jaylon (Smith). The first game is coming up soon.' I was like, 'This is the worst time for this to happen,'" Parsons said in an interview with Bleacher Report Live, via The Athletic's Jon Machota. "It's something that just kept lingering. When you hyperextend something, it needs rest. But I was like, 'I can't take no rest.' The whole season I kept rehabbing, rehabbing, rehabbing so that way I could play in the games."
Despite playing through the injury, Parsons was dominant throughout his entire rookie campaign. Parsons finished with 84 tackles, 13 sacks, 30 quarterback hits, 20 tackles for loss, and three forced fumbles in 16 games. His 13 sacks were the most from a rookie since Aldon Smith in 2011 and his 20 tackles for loss were the most by a rookie since Lavonte David in 2012. Since quarterback hits were first tracked in 2006, Parsons' 30 quarterback hits were the most by a rookie in NFL history. He finished third in the NFL in tackles for loss, tied for fourth in quarterback hits, and sixth in sacks.
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A Pro Bowl selection in 2021, Parsons finished with 67 pressures (ninth in the NFL) and his 21.8% pressure rate trailed only Devin White for best in the league. His run-stop percentage of 10.0% was fourth-best among linebackers in the NFL.
Parsons is the first player with 13 sacks and 80 tackles in a single season since J.J. Watt in 2012 (Watt won Defensive Player of the Year that season). The 13 sacks were tied for third-most by a rookie in NFL history since sacks became an NFL stat in 1982. One of just 12 players with at least 10 sacks and two forced fumbles in 2021, Parsons was just one of six rookies with 12 sacks and 16 tackles for loss in a season since 1999 (Dwight Freeney, Joey Bosa, Maxx Crosby, Von Miller, and Clay Matthews are the others).
Parsons accomplished all this with a hyperextended knee. What's he going to do at 100% health? The Dallas Cowboys have to be salivating at his potential.