November 18, 2010
Does it feel like you've seen more NFL players balled up on the ground, writhing in pain than you ever have before? There's a good reason for that. We're in the middle of the most injurious time in NFL history.
Alex Marvez of FoxSports.com broke out the following stat Thursday:
Dating back to the offseason, NFL teams have already placed 34 more players on injured reserve through 10 weeks (311) than at this point last year (277). The final numbers will assuredly be the highest since the NFL began playing with 32 teams in 2002.
That seems like something a commissioner of a league might be concerned about. Meanwhile, what's our current NFL commissioner's most pressing agenda? "Play more games, pansies!"
The commissioner and the owners are pushing for an expanded, 18-game schedule. Two additional games, of course, would mean more money from TV networks, ticket sales, advertising, etc. And there's nothing inherently wrong with that -- it's a business, they're businessmen, and making more money is what they do.
Make no mistake about it, though, that money will come at the expense of player health. And yes, injuries are a part of football, and every player has signed up to take that risk. I understand that. But serious injuries are becoming more and more frequent. Is that not something to be concerned about? What's an acceptable number?
If there are more games, there are more injuries, and if there are more injuries, there are shorter careers and a decreased quality of life when those careers are over. That's the trade-off. Health for money. There's no way around that.
What's really bothersome about it is that it's not even the players who will be seeing the money in exchange for their increased risk. Sure, they'll get a bump in pay commensurate with the extra time they have to put in, but that's it. The rest of the profit will go to the owners, for doing nothing more than they're doing now. Something about that feels very wrong and dirty.
From now on, I won't be able to help feeling slightly nauseated any time the commissioner or an owner talks about player safety, and how concerned they are and how seriously they take it. I'm not saying they don't care -- I'm sure they do, but their actions say they care about it just a little bit less than they care about making more money.
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