LINCOLN — There's finally a medical term to attach to Taylor Martinez's foot injury that changed the course of Nebraska's football season.
In an email sent Wednesday by Martinez's father, Casey Martinez, to several news outlets — including The World Herald — a doctor in North Carolina described Taylor's injury as a “plantar plate tear” of the second metatarsophalangeal joint, or “2nd MPJ,” in his left foot.
Dr. Mark Quist, a podiatrist and president of Carolina Foot and Ankle, diagnosed Martinez after the season.
“His treatment has consisted of (physical therapy), immobilization with a leg walker, injections, inserts and medications,” read Quist's message, which was a part of Casey's email. “He is no longer having pain plantarly, but the injury has left his 2nd MPJ in an elevated state, which can make the joint more vulnerable to capsulitis/tendinitis/metatarsalgia.”
Quist's message went on to say: “The tough part of this injury is relieving the plantar pain, which, fortunately for Taylor, has completely resolved. The other types of pain associated with this injury can easily be relieved with toe straps/orthotics/pads and medications if needed.”
Martinez, Quist wrote, did not suffer any structural damage to his foot bone and would not lose his speed.
That speed was a key component of his success at Nebraska, where Martinez finished as NU's career leader for total yards despite playing just four games of his senior year. According to Casey, his son tore the plantar plate in the fourth quarter of Nebraska's season opener against Wyoming. He played two more games on it, then sat for more than a month after a 41-21 loss to UCLA.
From the time Martinez wore a left walking boot in his UCLA postgame press conference until minutes after the loss to Minnesota, coaches described Martinez's injury as “turf toe,” which is generally related to an athlete's big toe. Martinez dispelled that notion in his postgame press conference after the Gophers loss.
He never played another down. Despite repeated requests from the press and NU staffers to discuss his injury, career and future at Nebraska, Martinez has declined.
In mid-November, Casey told news outlets by text and email that Taylor had a “debilitating” injury in his foot that would likely keep him out for the rest of the season. Taylor attended the 2014 Gator Bowl, but declined in Jacksonville to comment on his progress from the injury.
Casey said that his son thought he could play with the injury and decided to return for the Huskers' 34-23 loss to Minnesota.
“He was able to execute (the) game plan and tolerate the pain, which he did,” a subsequent email from Casey read. “He played well that game.”
But the Gopher game aggravated the injury “pretty bad,” Casey wrote.
“He thought it was something that he could just tough out,” Casey wrote, “but proved too much to tough out.”
Casey declined to name Taylor's agent, or say if Taylor has one. Taylor does plan to be “100 percent” for Nebraska's pro day in March.
“(He) just started ground work and sprints about (a) week and half ago,” Casey wrote. “Going to incorporate throwing next week and start training full speed.”
Martinez's personal quarterbacks coach, Steve Calhoun, said he will starting working with him next week.
“Taylor said he's finally allowed himself to heal fully, and he's back to his old, explosive self,” Calhoun said.
Calhoun said he believes Martinez can play quarterback in the NFL, although he'd like him to work more on throwing from his core and not just his arm. Calhoun said Martinez has the aptitude to play the position in the league.
“One of the underrated things about Taylor is how smart he is, his football IQ,” Calhoun said. “He'll open some eyes when he starts meeting with NFL general managers.”