Year after year, the NFL is adopting new rules aimed primarily at decreasing the number of injuries players are suffering. Defensive players complain that they can no longer go high or low, and anything involving a helmet has pretty much been banned. The kickoff spot has been moved forward to create fewer returns and new special-teams rules have been tweaked with player safety in mind (no more wedges, no pushing teammates into the formation on kicks). Plus, it's become increasingly difficult to touch quarterbacks without drawing a flag.
Critics say they might as well be wearing flags, arguing that an inherently violent sport is being watered down.
Whether or not you agree with that, it has to be discouraging to see that no few players are getting hurt.
This was one of the worst weeks for injuries I've ever seen covering the NFL. Jay Cutler's gone for a month. Sam Bradford is on injured reserve, as are Reggie Wayne, Brian Cushing and Doug Martin. Nick Foles, who was playing in relief of the injured Michael Vick, now has a concussion. Jermichael Finley was hospitalized. Lance Briggs is out six weeks with an injured shoulder. And it goes on and on. Ten real or presumed opening-day starting quarterbacks have already been sidelines.
Six weeks ago, ESPN's Adam Schefter reported that 170 players had been placed on IR before Week 1, which was an all-time record. Since then, key Patriots, Packers, Broncos, Bears and Cowboys have been dropping like flies.
This can't be what the NFL had in mind when it started making major rule changes in order to "protect the players." Are the rule changes simply not having the desired effect, or are other factors -- such as tentative treatment in response to pressure or fewer training camp and regular-season practices -- at play?
Some around the league blame the increase of injuries on the fact that, under the terms of the CBA that has been in effect the past two offseasons, players have more off time in the offseason, then shock their bodies with some of the sudden and dramatic movements players demand their bodies to make.
We might never know for sure, because all of those changes came into place at around the same time, and there's no way the NFL will reverse course on this crusade any time soon.
Here's my 2 cents worth with a slightly different slant. I think the ginormous and still growing salaries play a significant part in why more and more players are getting hurt. The more ridiculously high the salaries....the more a player will be distracted from practicing and working out in the off season........Period! You have 10's of millions at your disposal.....so you travel, vacation and party (more than usual or whatever "normal" might be) and other things BESIDES honing your craft to excel and/or to prevent injuries by way of getting stronger or just preventative measures like stretching and exercise. This is not a blanket statement of course...... there are those athletes who bust their asses off during the off season (Kobe types who live in the gym much of the off season).....but those the rare exceptions and not the rule. And even Kobe got hurt......right? My point is that the majority of pro football players do NOT spend enough time during the off season to prepare themselves properly for what is arguably one the most physical and dangerous sports out there. This is true of any sport....but especially football since the object is to hit and tackle with full force. The salaries are SO HIGH that the inevitable will continue to happen.... players are rarely playing for the love of the game (which would include love of practice and preparation) as much as they are in love with the over inflated salaries. Should they be paid extremely well because of the draw and entertainment value......Yes! But 8 and 9 figure salaries are too extreme in most cases. Instead of an NFL player working out in Feb - July or Aug..... he's going to be spending those millions on everything from second and third homes to boats/planes/automobiles...... and the wildest party scenes imaginable. I'm not complaining about what the athletes do with their money.......that's their business. I'm just suggesting that it's a major distraction from what the should be doing.....which is work harder in the off season and save the partying until their relatively short but high earning years are done. The money is too much temptation for most...... I'd probably succumb to the excesses too if I were making a million plus per game!!!! This doesn't begin to touch the fact that an injury can occur regardless of your hard work or preparation......but it does go to the number (percentages) of the injuries due to ill prepared and less than optimal training habits. Hard to imagine the party scene just instantly stops and then in a month or two the athlete is in the best possible condition to do battle on a football field. Not enough "Jerry Rice's" out there. It's not hard to tell which athletes (and the biggest stars) who are talented but mostly collecting big fat checks......versus those who put in the real efforts during the off season to continually attempt to improve and raise their game (even if some of it is still ego or money driven).....which translates to fewer injuries overall. I think we also see an increase in the number of athletes who are habitually hurt...... as well as those who ride or fake injuries while collecting millions.
I love sports. I made a living around professional athletes and saw things first hand. These were just personal observations and my own deductive reasoning. Football is tough enough......throw in mega millions and expecting 100% in return is just not a good business model considering the maturity (or immaturity) of incoming level players. I don't mean immature negatively...I mean inexperienced at handling instant wealth, fame and the vast distractions that take away their focus on the game itself.
That's my 2 cents......er, uh..... $1.77 worth of comments. I'm just sayin!