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PrattTribune - Pratt, KS
  • Are NFL injuries out of control?

  • Is it just me, or is the number of incapacitating sports injuries getting ridiculous this year-especially in pro football?
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  • Is it just me, or is the number of incapacitating sports injuries getting ridiculous this year-especially in pro football?
    I suppose it is possible that with the additional protocols being mandated for head injuries, it just SEEMS like there are more injuries.
    Perhaps we are just noticing it more because players are being held out now for injuries where in earlier years, they might have gone ahead and played with concussions, for example.
    I don’t have any numbers or facts to back me up, just anecdotal evidence, but I sense that the frequency and severity of pro football injuries really is escalating.  
    Just to cite a few examples: The woeful Chiefs QB Matt Cassel went down with an injury several weeks ago, to the delight of many of the Chiefs faithful it pains me to say. I mean, yes, his performance has stunk this year, but really…Cheering when your hometown QB gets carted off the field with an injury? That’s just cold, man.
    Anyhoo, Cassel gets replaced by Brady Quinn who manages to last just long enough for Cassel to have recovered from his injuries before Quinn is himself felled by injury the following week.
    Last week’s national Sunday night game, the Steelers vs. the Ravens, was impacted greatly by the Steelers’ starting QB Ben Roethlisberger being relegated to sideline status due to injury.
    Then the Monday Night national game with the 49ers playing the Bears featured back-up QBs starting for BOTH teams.  As they would say on Monday Night Countdown, “C’mon, man.”
    It seems reasonable to assume that the injury situation in the NFL is a concern, even if it isn’t REALLY getting worse and only seems so. The main questions that are raised are (A) What is causing the injury epidemic, and (2) what can be done about it?
    I blame ESPN in part for the recent phenomenon of players launching themselves like missiles, head first, into opposing players. A few years ago, there was a feature called “Jacked Up!” in which film clips would be shown of players applying vicious hits to opponents. What better way to get some air time than to “jack up” an opponent by burying your helmet into his neck?
    Also, players today are simply bigger, stronger and faster than they used to be. I would think simple physics would explain that there are going to be more injuries when you have 300 pound behemoths who can run a 4.4 40 crashing into one another. Greater mass accelerated to greater speed is going to generate greater force, if I remember my high school science correctly. And greater force applied to human bodies is going to result in greater injuries.
    Page 2 of 2 - I also wonder if enough coaching is going on of proper blocking and tackling techniques, or whether all the attention goes to learning plays.
    Full disclosure, I did not play football past junior high so maybe I don’t know what I’m talking about here. It just seems to me that blocking and tackling can be done without involving attempted maiming.
    As to what can be done about the rise in pro football injuries, a lot of the discussion revolves around equipment-either the players should have MORE protective equipment or LESS. Those in the “more” camp think improved helmets and other padding will reduce injuries.
    But there are also suggestions that taking protective equipment AWAY from players will make them less likely to propel themselves recklessly into opponents out of concern for their own physical safety. As it is now, players are cushioned by a cocoon of gear, and feel that they can smash into opponents with impunity. How much head-first contact would there be if no one was wearing helmets?
    I prefer another solution to the injury issue, however.  I think the only solution is to toughen up the penalties that are administered for vicious hits. Something along the lines of: Decide what hits are dangerously illegal, say for example helmet to helmet contact, etc.
    The first time a player commits one of those, it is a 15 yard penalty. The next time, even if it’s two weeks or TWO YEARS later, he is ejected from the contest with loss of  game pay (not just a chicken-feed fine.) The next time, no matter when he does it, two weeks or two years later, he is ineligible for the rest of that season without pay. The fourth time, he’s permanently out of the NFL.
    I would stipulate that the hit must be reviewed on video to confirm that the hit was in fact vicious and illegal, but there’s already so much replay going on in NFL games, what’s one more item on the replay agenda? I think that would cull the vicious illegal hitters out of the league very quickly and we wouldn’t all have to watch games where back-up QBs are the rule rather than the exception.

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