Are Injuries and Disgruntled Players Killing the NFL??
We all know that injuries are part of the game in football. That's a given. What happens though when all the marquee players start getting hurt? What happens when the "Glamour" position---Quarterback, suddenly becomes much, much thinner?
Easy: The quality of the game suffers. It suffers immensely.
In Week #2 alone, Drew Brees, Ben Roethlisberger and Sam Darnold all were either out, or went out of their game due to injury. Roethlisberger is getting surgery on his throwing elbow and is out for the season--Brees and Darnold are likely out for at least a month if not more. What's worse, Darnold's backup for the New York Jets--Trevor Semien, he lasted less than one quarter in his start vs. Cleveland leaving the Jets to lean on the dreaded Luke Falk to finish the game. It doesn't even include Jacksonville's starting QB Nick Foles who went out with an injury during Week #1.
Alas--this may not even be the biggest problem facing the King of America's Professional Sports.
The league is also going to have to deal with the Miami Dolphins (disclosure: My boyhood team that I still cheer for). The Dolphins completely eliminate almost every top level NFL player from their roster and are arguably the worst team in NFL history. Arguably the Dolphins best defensive player and 2018 #1 pick Minkah Fitzpatrick--got traded to the Pittsburgh Steelers just one day after Game #2 and complaints he wanted out.
Then there is Jacksonville Jaguar CB Jalen Ramsey who got into a heated argument with his Head Coach, on the sideline, during the game as Jacksonville lost in one of the most painful ways possible on Sunday.
Yeah...um, Ramsey announced to the world on Monday, he would like to take his talents elsewhere. Immediately...
All of these headlines in the last 48-hours have almost shoved the adventure that is Antonio Brown into the background.
Though considering some of the accusations now being leveled against the current New England Patriots WR, he may end up being a bigger problem (if true).
If you take all of these things together---it makes you wonder what the heck is going on....The NFL to this point had never had an issue with players forcing their way out of teams they didn't want to play for. The injury issue has always been there and seems to be growing and the Dolphins---well, congratulations NFL, you now are getting what the NBA and Major League Baseball have had for the past few years.
It all leads me to several questions:
One, injuries. How do you deal with the specter of the game becoming too violent, too physically demanding for the players to make it through a season, never mind live a semi-healthy lifestyle once they retire? The run of injuries itself isn't anything new, but it adds to the narrative quite easily and when you have elite guys like Andrew Luck walking away because of it---you have a big, big problem on your hands.
For years, fans just shrugged off players getting hurt and fans don't really understand what playing the game does to these guys. It's quickly getting to the point where all the millions in the world are pointless if you can't live your best life during or after your time as a Football player.
Two, "Tanking": I love my Dolphins and always will. But what they are doing in 2019 is bad for any game. They literally are tearing things down to scraps, filling a roster primarily with guys who'd struggle to win in the XFL. Sure, they have 212 Draft Picks the next two seasons and may very well be really, really good by 2021 or 22, but man, if you are a season ticket holder, how do you justify paying all that money for this product?
And three, Mr. Brown: I suspect Karma will be catching up to him at some point. Soon. He's a bad look for, well, anyone. Sure, it surprised nobody when he managed to force his way out of Oakland before ever playing a down and even less people when he miraculously had a deal waiting for him in New England.
But almost every day, something new comes out about his horrific behavior. Even if the Sexual Assault allegations turn out to be false, there are other issues that are popping up that should worry even Emperor Belichick. It appears Brown owes a lot of people a lot of money and off the field, based on the allegations coming out, sounds like a horrible person.
But he's a talented football player---and his saga totally feeds into the impression of the NFL overlooking bad behavior as long as you can play well.
And that's the problem. At the end of the day, the NFL comes across--at least to me, as being about profit and nothing else. It's a corporate monolith that seems to ignore it's problems as long as viewers watch and people buy tickets.
That part may never change--but I have the feeling we're approaching a tipping point where football may loose it's "King" status. Maybe I'm wrong, but let's re-visit this in a year or two and see.
Disagree? Tell me why the NFL should be loved? Give me a good reason to think they'll grow even bigger over the next decade....
Go ahead---I'm waiting....