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'This is a big deal': NFL star Sam Darnold's career threatened after mono diagnosis

'This is a big deal': NFL star Sam Darnold's career threatened after mono diagnosis
New York Jets quarterback Sam Darnold could 'miss a lot of time' after it was announced that the 22-year-old has been quarantined in his apartment after being diagnosed with viral disease mono, according to an NFL medical expert.

Darnold, who was the third pick in the 2018 NFL draft, has been ruled out of Monday's primetime clash with the Cleveland Browns by his team after being found to have contracted infectious mononucleosis, otherwise known as mono or glandular fever.

But his absence could extend well past the next few weeks and have a debilitating impact on his career, according to Dr. David Chao a former NFL team physician and reporter on profootballdoc.com. 

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The timeline for recovery of the illness is around four to six weeks, states Chao, but it could be far longer than that before Darnold returns to the field.

"He’s going to miss a lot of time," Chao said. "This isn’t just about how does he feel. It’s about more than that."

Early stages of the illness are marked by, among other things, a great deal of fatigue which will likely delay his return to peak physical fitness. In addition to that, mono can cause the spleen and liver to enlarge which mandates that physical contact be limited because of the risk of organ damage. 

Sufferers of the illness often undergo dramatic weight loss, something which will have to be addressed prior to returning to one of the most physically taxing positions in sport while even his presence among teammates will have to be restricted in the coming weeks for fear of infecting teammates. 

The timeline for Darnold's comeback remains unclear but Chao says that Jets fans shouldn't hold their breaths.

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"This is a big deal," he said. "With this diagnosis of mono, an injured-reserve stint is not off the table. I’m not saying he’s going on injured reserve but this starts at four to six weeks. Any four-to-six-week injury puts IR (injured reserve) in the conversation."

In the meantime, Jets deputy quarterback Trevor Siemian is in line to handle the team's quarterback duties throughout the next few weeks, or even months.