Kittle said recently that he has been playing the past two seasons with a torn labrum in his right shoulder.
"So I dislocated my shoulder last year," Kittle told the Pardon My Take podcast, per NBC Sports Bay Area, "and my labrum is completely torn. So I don't get surgery on it... [The protective sleeve] basically helps me, so it doesn't hurt all the time."
The All-Pro tight end, who wears a gray protective sleeve on said shoulder, added that, despite the injury, there is "no chance" he will get surgery on his shoulder in the future.
"I can't miss those workout days, man," Kittle said, per NBC Sports Bay Area.
Kittle's admission that he's played at least the last 17 months with a bum shoulder and has refused surgery is alarming, but also makes his accomplishments more impressive in hindsight. Kittle has logged 173 receptions for 2,430 yards and 10 scores since the start of the 2018 season, has been named to two Pro Bowls and just this month was named a first-team All-Pro. With Rob Gronkowski retired, he rivals only Chiefs star Travis Kelce for title of best tight end in the NFL.
Kittle is set to earn a major contract extension this offseason, and while these injury revelations should cast doubt on his long-term health, that the tight end has excelled as both a pass-catcher and run-blocker despite a handful of ailments this season is proof that Kittle is worth the investment.