Are You Ready for Some Football! (?)
Ah, Week One of the NFL regular season. So much joy brought into so many households (that is, until your team loses). However, these games are not always the wonderful welcome back parties that they are to fans for players. Every year, your team is seemingly doomed to lose one of their key players due to the NFL’s favorite poison; injuries (or gain one due to an appealing process that disgusts me so much I hope the Cowboys score negative points).
Why are these tremendous athletes bound to be reduced to a form more resemblant of NFL fans on their couch than un-human freaks? They’ve had all season to prepare, and yet they come out right away and get injured. But maybe it is that same break that is actually hampering these players come game time.
Keep in mind, this trend starts in the preseason. It really should come as no surprise. Football is one of those things that you need to actually play in order to stay in game condition. Practicing is nice and all, but until you’re running full speed trying to hurt somebody, it just isn’t the same. The NFLPA pushed for years to limit contact practices in order to protect their players, but they have ironically made them more injury prone in more important situations. Sure, it sucks to lose your starting free safety in the preseason for three weeks, but it’s better than losing him for three weeks in Week One. With a lack of proper preparation, these pros aren’t ready for the helmet-to-helmet, four quarter gash that is a football game, much less a full season of it.
There are already so many key guys out for the entire season, like Eric Berry, Julian Edelman, Dominique Easley, Ryan Tannehill, Teddy Bridgewater...the list goes on. Right now, the NFL has 172 players on the IR (injured reserve), almost ten percent of the whole league. This is clearly a major problem, and a possible reversal on the contact rules might help players get in better shape for the upcoming season. Even if these guys do sustain injuries in the offseason/preseason, it would be better for them and their teams than if they went down during the regular season. These guys aren’t ready when they enter the game, and it’s having devastating effects. Plus, any injury sustained in practice is likely to be less severe than one received in-game. You can live with your guy going down during one-on-ones, but seeing him crumple to the ground during a game because he wasn’t physically ready… Though concussions aren’t part of this dilemma (as they can happen whenever, wherever, and to whomever), other ailments can be avoided by proper practice and physicality. Anything’s better than your fantasy team being demolished by injuries.