Everyone applauded the NFL this week when it handed down $765 million for concussion-related injuries.
It’s great that the NFL has owned up to the nearly 4
,500 claims that have been hanging around every time more and more information was found about how these types of injuries continue to keep brains in a thick fog following a career.
And now the NFL is trying to curtail injuries to players’ knees. Let’s not forget knee injuries were an understandable by-product of policing hits to the head. The target area for the defense went south and it was only a matter of time before knees started to shatter, tear and split.
But when will NFL no longer resemble itself?
There’s a reason why mothers sob uncontrollably when their son is lying motionless on the turf. There’s a reason why players make impromptu prayer huddles following a lengthy injury delay that usually ends with the injured player leaving on a stretcher with a neck brace.
Everyone knows the risks involved with football. An offensive or defensive lineman can be pushed the wrong way and tear his ACL. Skill players rip up their hamstrings because their quads are too muscular or they simply do inadequate stretching.
Mike McCarthy made this preseason a war on injuries. He didn’t want to address medical issues until games started counting. With Jordy Nelson, Randall Cobb, Bryan Bulaga, DaJuan Harris and others became sidelined it seemed like he failed.
Problem is, it’s a losing battle. Unless you’re willing to bubble wrap the players or turn America’s most popular sport, which was worth $35 billion as of September 2012, into a product that people no longer resemble. That’s more money than the GDP of 80 countries by the way.
As much as some people want the NFL to get a safety facelift, Roger Goodell just cannot do it. And the reason is simple: he is printing money.
There aren’t a lot of sports that would force the president to alter his State of the Union Address, or force churches to change their worship schedule.
This preseason has been one of the worst in terms of injuries. Key guys like Michael Crabtree, Arian Foster, Jamaal Charles, EJ Manuel, Kevin Kolb, Ahmad Bradshaw, Victor Cruz, Dustin Keller, La’Veon Bell and Wes Welker among others have experienced some sort of injury this preseason.
As long as the starters play — and I don’t care if it’s a half or a series — there’s an excellent chance that key cogs are going to go down. I mean, Tom Brady was injured on a freak play in practice, but luckily didn’t do any damage.
The NFL is a barbaric sport. There’s collisions on every play. It’s like wrestling but being able to run at your opponent full speed without him knowing it.
Injuries are a part of the game but at the same time it shouldn’t define who a team is. And the reason I say that is because of 2010. The Packers had 16 players listed on inured reserve but still were able to find a way to win the franchise’s fourth Super Bowl.
As teams celebrate the start of another NFL season, injuries will be talked about like they always are. They will be mentioned like they are some sort of infectious disease, which can be prevented with the right attitude and work ethic.
Obviously, that’s not the case. I’ve seen kids get injured in flag football and the only way they could’ve prevented injury was to not get out of the minivan.
So no matter how “safe” the NFL wants the game to be, it will never be 100 percent safe. If the NFL takes away hits to the knees the target area for defensive players will be altered again.
So, how long before the NFL has to take steps to avoid hits to the ankles?
Cory Jennerjohn is from Wisconsin and has been in sports media for over 10 years. To contact Cory e-mail him at jeobs -at- yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter: Cory Jennerjohn