The sight of star quarterback Tom Brady wearing a protective boot over his right foot Monday had New York tabloids buzzing and Patriots followers fearing the worst, but the injury is not serious.
Brady has a high right ankle sprain, according to an NFL source, which explains why he was wearing the device during a visit to New York. The sprain, which is minor, will not jeopardize Brady's chances of playing in Super Bowl XLII Feb. 3, the source said.
Both the Patriots and Giants are not required to submit an injury report until a week from today. The Patriots do not return to practice until tomorrow.
Two medical experts, neither of whom is treating Brady, indicated that he likely was wearing the boot as a preventative measure.
"Since two weeks remain [to the game], the medical/training staff may have determined that using this short leg walker would provide some relief of pressure, and provide support and rest, even if it was a minor injury," said Dr. Michael A. Robinson, a sports podiatrist and foot surgeon based in Brookline. "The short leg walker would help promote more rapid recovery."
Dr. Nicholas DiNubile, an orthopedic surgeon specializing in sports medicine, further described the benefit of the boot.
"It is a way to rest that body part and prevent the normal movement that goes on with everyday walking," said DiNubile, who serves as an orthopedic consultant to the Philadelphia 76ers. "That allows things to settle down because it's protecting that area and preventing the motions.
"Not knowing the specifics, it looks to me that they just wanted to put it to rest for a day or two."
Brady's foot became a hot topic when he was photographed in New York City Monday afternoon. Gossip website TMZ.com also posted a 1-minute-18-second video clip of Brady and his girlfriend, Gisele Bundchen, which showed Brady favoring his right foot.
Later in the night, Brady was photographed again in New York City, but without the boot.
Brady's father was a guest on 1510 ESPN radio in New York yesterday, and said that if the injury were serious, Brady would have spoken to him about it. Tom Brady Sr. also said that there is no question Brady will play.
"If he had to go out there with two crutches and a cast on each leg, he is playing," Brady Sr. said. "He won't voluntarily walk off the field. Anybody that thinks a little tweak is going to stop [him] is just wasting ink."