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Whitney Mercilus Lost A Finger Tip In College, Went On To Lead NCAA In Sacks

Pass rushers losing phalanges might become all the rage. Whitney Mercilus may have an idea of what Jason Pierre-Paul is going through.

Bob Levey/Getty Images

So with all the hullabaloo about Giants DE Jason Pierre-Paul losing part of his index finger in a fireworks accident, I discovered (or forgot that I had already discovered) that our very own Whitney Mercilus is also short a finger tip. This story from back in 2012 explains:

"It was the last week of spring ball," Mercilus said. "It was a weightlifting accident. A teammate was squatting 405 pounds, and he went down too low. He tried to come back up. I ran over to help him, and I tried to give him an assist."

But rather than reaching for the bar, Mercilus made a mistake: His hand instinctively went toward the weight plates between the bar and the rack. The bar came down fast -- too fast -- severing his left index finger at the first knuckle.


Mercilus went on to notch 16 sacks for Illinois after that happened, strengthening his draft stock for the 2012 NFL Draft and the Houston Texans. Mercilus credited the accident as the catalyst for his success.

Mercilus is now perfectly comfortable discussing the gruesome injury that's less than a year old -- maybe because he believes it helped morph his mindset in a way that led to a NCAA-high 16 sacks. Whatever the reason, it's crazy stuff.

"I think the tipping point that really set it off was me losing the tip of my finger," Mercilus said.

Unfortunately Mercilus hasn't been the same pass-rushing terror since the Texans took him with the 27th overall pick, earning just 18 sacks in three NFL seasons.

With so much of the Texans' hopes for the 2015 season resting on the shoulders of the defense, I wonder if Mercilus is perhaps taking a long look at his other index finger and wondering what might be if...