Based on the hard-hitting carnage of Week 6 and the "won't someone please think of the children" pleas against an 18-game schedule, you'd think the injury rate in the NFL had hit epic proportions this season. But what if I told you that NFL injury rates are actually down in 2010 when compared to last year?
From Mark Maske in Wednesday's edition of The Washington Post:
Through the first eight weeks of this season, the average team had 13 injuries that caused a player to miss more than two weeks, down from 15 such injuries per team over the first eight weeks of the 2009 season, according to the NFL.
The average team had 3.8 injuries that required a player to miss more than six weeks during the first eight weeks of this season, down from 5.9 such injuries per team over the same duration last season, according to the NFL.
Curiously, the number of players who have been placed on the injured reserve list by their teams is up from last season. But league officials said several factors are involved in IR decisions and those numbers aren't necessarily the most reliable indicator of the rate at which players get hurt.
There's one big caveat to these numbers though: They were crunched by a college professor paid by the league to analyze such rates. This isn't to say the data is faulty, but it could be a situation where only the data that looks best for the league is mentioned. If the NFLPA were to commission a study, I'm sure the same professor could find specific sets of data that would suggest the injury rate has gone up since 2009.
Either way, this goes to show that sometimes epidemics can be overstated when the media latches on to them. It's the shark-effect theory. Once a story hits the news, everyone rushes to turn every subsequent incident into a trend, even though things are occurring at the same rate.
Players get hurt in the NFL. Some years they get hurt more and some years they get hurt less, and usually the positive or negative trends are pure happenstance rather than evidence of a shifting tide.