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story.lead_photo.caption U.S. Rep. Rick Crawford of Jonesboro is shown in this file photo. - Photo by Frank E. Lockwood

WASHINGTON -- U.S. Rep. Rick Crawford, R-Ark., is giving up the game of football after fracturing his fibula during an early morning practice late last week.

The lawmaker from Jonesboro was preparing for tonight's charity Congressional Football Game when the injury occurred.

It happened during a noncontact play, a split second after he'd caught a pass in the open field, he said.

"There wasn't anybody close to me, really," he said. "I just decided to turn up field and try to get a few extra yards. ... When I turned, my foot stayed put and the rest of my body didn't, so it twisted my knee."

The broken leg brought the practice to a halt.

"Everybody there said it was pretty ugly to look at," Crawford, 53, said.

An attending physician said Crawford appeared to have a torn medial collateral ligament.

Fortunately, an MRI showed that the ligament was only strained; not torn or severed.

This week, the Mean Machine will have to play without Crawford, a U.S. Army veteran and former saddle bronc rider.

The team's longtime center is back in northeast Arkansas this week, following doctor's orders and staying off his leg. The fibula is a long thin bone below the knee, next to the bigger tibia.

Initially, there was substantial swelling. Medical professionals removed 80 milliliters of blood from the knee -- roughly one-third of a cup. After that, the swelling subsided.

For now, Crawford is on crutches.

"I've got, basically, a brace on it," he said. He's not supposed to put any weight on the leg and he's supposed to keep it elevated.

The difference between a strain and a tear is the difference between weeks and months of rehab, Crawford said, adding it could have been a whole lot worse.

Crawford won't be needing his football gear any more, he said.

"I brought my cleats home and gave them to my son," he said.

Will, an eighth grader, plays football, too.

Today's game, at Gallaudet University's Hotchkiss Field in Washington, D.C., will kick off, as scheduled, at 7 p.m.

The defending champs, known as The Guards, feature current and former U.S. Capitol Police officers.

They'll face off against the Mean Machine -- a hodge-podge of politicians and retired National Football League greats, including former Heisman Trophy winner Herschel Walker.

U.S. Rep. Bruce Westerman, R-Ark., who played football with the University of Arkansas Razorback in the late 1980s, is on tonight's roster; he's scheduled to play wide receiver.

Tickets cost $10 and a long list of corporate sponsors have signed on, ranging from Allstate to Uber.

Proceeds from the game will benefit The Capitol Police Memorial Fund and two other charities.

Metro on 09/24/2019

Print Headline: Fracture putting Arkansas congressman on bench

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