Sure football is painful but players are trained to be tough and play through pain. They shake it off, make it to the huddle and call the next play. Usually the worst physical damage that could’ve occurred—besides the normal bumps and bruises—are torn muscles and ligaments, a concussion or maybe a broken bone.

So why is one possible outcome that happens on the same play causing the most danger never seen, heard, or even felt? Because this attacker is a microscopic bacterium from the increasingly common, yet relatively understood, “superbug” or MRSA (methicillin-resistant S. aureus)—a mean and stubborn relative of the common Staphylococcus aureus, or as it’s usually called in the general public, a staph infection.

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