Violent NFL Injuries are Slowly Killing the Game
This week was a truly brutal example of why the NFL is slowly dying. Yeah, sure the TV ratings--like the ratings of everything on TV are dropping as is attendance. No, it's not a political statement nor is it just people ignoring the bad teams and only watching the good ones.
The NFL has multiple problems: Bad PR, off-field crimes, high prices and a diluted product due to over exposure. But it all pales in comparison to the issue that will eventually be its doom----INJURIES.
Perhaps the worst example of an injury combined with bad PR and heads being stuck in the sand about them---the concussion suffered by Houston Texans QB Tom Savage.
Savage got viciously hit and concussed by Elvis Dumervil during the Texans game with the San Francisco 49ers. He lay on the ground after the hit--and by all visual accounts appeared to suffer a brief..but quite obvious seizure.
He got back up, staggered into the huddle and threw a couple of incomplete passes after the hit and after an exchange of possessions, tried going back into the game.
Somehow---nobody on the Texans sideline either noticed...or paid attention to what happened. Asked about it after the game, Texans Coach Bill O'Brien told reporters after being asked about Savage trying to go back into the game was out of his hands and that "All I do is coach"...
The incident is perhaps the most jarring example of the NFL's "Concussion" problem--a problem they seem incredibly slow to address.
But it's only part of the "Injury" problem....though perhaps the biggest example of the game's violence ruining the careers and lives of players and slowly ruining the game.
The "Other" part of the equation is the spate of injuries hurting players and knocking them out of the season.
A glaring example of this: Philadelphia's Carson Wentz--an absolute budding star and leader in only his 2nd year with the team...going down with an ACL injury late in the Eagles win over the Rams.
Amazingly--Wentz got hurt trying to score a Touchdown on a Quarterback scramble that got called back. He proceeded to stay in the game--though barely able to move--for 4 more plays. The last play was a touchdown pass giving his team the lead.
Same problem for the aforementioned Texans: Their season looked really bright at the beginning of the year with rookie QB Deshaun Watson lifting them to heights they've not been in years. And then Watson tears his ACL and was gone. The Texans have struggled to do much of anything since.
Last week--the issue was the Pittsburgh Steelers and LB Ryan Shazier who had to be stretchered out of Cincinnati's Paul Brown Stadium with a brutal hit to his spine that immediately swelled up and rendered him nearly paralyzed. Shazier may never play football again....
The point here is this: The NFL for decades played up the brutality and violence of the game as a selling point. And it worked. Fans developed a rabid appetite for the destructive hits and relished in guys getting flattened during plays. The league and to an extent fans didn't even consider the physical toll the violence takes on a human body.
For all the people/fans who whine about the "High Paid" players and their misdeeds or cry about their performance saying if a player doesn't perform he should be fired or just grateful he's getting paid what he is to play a game....there's a price to pay.
While you get to sit in the stands paying an obnoxiously high price to sit in the stands and say awful things about professional athletes or sit on your couch or chair at a Sports Bar watching on TV, most of these guys are sacrificing their future health to put on a show for you.
Go find a former NFL player and watch him walk or try to do something physical. Watch him limp or shuffle slowly because he can no longer fully stride or lift something up.
Yes, I know--athletes know what they sign up for and get paid well for what they do. And there are plenty of people who'll sit there and say "Well, they didn't complain about injuries back in the old days, these young guys are just pussies".
Nothing could be further from the truth.
The NFL needs to find a way to resolve this problem. Losing star Quarterbacks to injury on a regular basis takes a toll on the quality of the game. Having Aaron Rodgers, Watson, Wentz, Andrew Luck all out for most if not all the season with injuries means there are Brett Hundley's and Tom Savage's starting at Quarterback for NFL teams. And it ain't pretty.
If they don't figure out how to resolve this soon---"America's Game" may go the way of the Dinosaur. It won't happen overnight and may not happen in our lifetime---but at the rate the game is eroding...it will happen....