28 Operations Not Enough

NFL players put their bodies through incredible torment to keep playing the game they love. Mark Schlereth, a former NFL lineman, is one of only 15 players to win Super Bowls in both conferences, and one of 35 players to win rings with two teams.

But Schlereth, who retired as a Denver Bronco after last season, lives with these numbers every day: He has had 29 operations, including 20 on his knees.

"The reason I came out here today was to announce that I have just signed a six-year, $42-million contract to extend my career with the Denver Broncos," Schlereth quipped at his farewell news conference. After the chuckles died down, he said:

"The truth of the matter is, after going through the 15th operation on my left knee last November, it became painfully obvious that I couldn't sign a six-day contract for $42 worth of Tupperware."

Despite all the operations, Schlereth was an all-pro in 1997 and was chosen for the Pro Bowl twice.

"For seven seconds, during each play, I'm able to forget about it and put it on the back burner," he said. "As soon as the play ends, I start limping back to the huddle in pain."

-- Sam Farmer

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