The NFL has made reducing concussion-related injuries one of its main priorities.
However, players are more concerned about injuring the lower part of their body.
USA TODAY Sports polled 293 players on 20 NFL teams and asked what body part they were most concerned about injuring in a game. Only 24 percent they were worried about head injuries, and 26 percent said none.
Nevertheless, 46 percent of players surveyed by USA TODAY Sports said they were worried about knee injuries or other parts of their legs. Players view a major hit to the leg as more career-threatening than a concussion. Some players can rebound from a concussion and not miss a game, but a leg injury could negatively impact a player’s earning potential.
The response is not surprising when you consider the substantial leg injuries sustained by New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski, defensive tackle Vince Wilfork, Colts receiver Reggie Wayne, Eagles receiver Jeremy Maclin, Broncos linebacker Von Miller and Green Bay receiver Randall Cobb this season. Players such as former Detroit Lions running back Jahvid Best, who saw his career cut short after several head injuries, are not as prevalent.
“For me, it's the knee,” Bears running back Michael Bush told USA TODAY Sports. “That's the one that gets me, not the head or anything. A head injury? Don't get me wrong, that's bad. No one wants a concussion. But, here and now, a knee injury can be career-ending.”
In addition, the majority of players do not believe NFL rule changes on hits to the helmet have made the game safer.
Fifty-three percent of players polled said safety was about the same, 39 percent believed the game was safer, while eight percent view their sport as less safe.
“You saw what happened to Gronkowski,” Browns guard Shawn Lauvao told USA TODAY Sports. “That's because of a rule change. The way it was before, he would have just got hit in the head. He would have been there for the next play. It's a Catch-22. I know they're trying to make it safer, but some rules changes just take away from the game.”
According to the Associated Press, the NFL said there were 30 ACL injuries in games through the preseason and first 13 weeks of the schedule. Conversely, there were 39 similar injuries in 2012, 35 in 2011, 37 in 2010, and 31 in 2009.
Nevertheless, there was an increase in medial collateral ligament injuries (MCL), from 74 in 2012 to 89 in games through 13 weeks. However, there were 106 MCL injuries in 2011, 89 in 2010 and 103 in 2009.
The NFL cannot eliminate all injuries, but has addressed its biggest problem. As long as former players continue to show signs of chronic traumatic encephalopathy CTE, which many believe is the result of constant blows to the head from football, reducing head injuries will remain the NFL’s biggest concern.
Even if players are more worried about leg injuries.
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