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Iowa linebacker Aaron Mends lost his last opportunity to start with a severe knee injury last week.

Missed opportunity is worst part of Iowa linebacker Aaron Mends’ knee injury

We are tackling the best question supplied by Iowa fans each day. If you’d like to submit a question, tweet to Scott Dochterman here. Look for our Iowa Question of the Day every Monday through Friday. Go here to see all of our previous answers.

ANSWER: There’s nothing worse to cover in sports than serious injuries, kind of like there’s nothing worse to cover as a police reporter than fatal auto accidents.

Many injuries tug at fans because of the hypotheticals, especially from a team perspective. What if quarterback Ricky Stanzi didn’t suffer a high-ankle sprain against Northwestern in 2009? If multiple ACL injuries had not crippled its depth, would the 2010 Hawkeyes have become a Big Ten championship team?  

Then there are the injuries that affect someone like defensive end Drew Ott, who appeared as a bona fide NFL prospect but had both a dislocated elbow and a torn ACL in 2015. The NCAA denied his medical hardship waiver and he’s still waiting for an NFL opportunity. Multiple knee injuries doomed the NFL prospects of former Iowa tight end Jake Duzey as well.

But those players had chances to display their abilities earlier in their career. In his fifth season, linebacker Aaron Mends was set to become a starter for first time. He was a special teamer and sub-package player early in his career and nearly moved to fullback. In 2016, he was locked in a battle at weakside linebacker but lost to Bo Bower, who started for the next two seasons. A day after he was praised by defensive coordinator Phil Parker, Mends suffered a significant knee injury that’s likely an ACL tear. It was so vicious it would surprise anyone if he plays this fall.

Mends already had a redshirt season so the likelihood of an NCAA medical hardship waiver is doubtful. This was his year to showcase his abilities. If Mends doesn’t seek or gain a waiver, it’s difficult to envision him getting an NFL opportunity. That’s why this injury is so heartbreaking. 

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