Chicago, IL – Well NFL fans good news is around the corner it looks like the NFL lockout is nearing an end, but is it really as good a thing as we all think. We all want to see football but could there be a high cost? So many days have passed I don’t even remember how long the lockout has now gone on. What the lockout has raised is many questions in my mind regarding the integrity of the game, the hypocrisy of a league and what the damages will be to the players that they play in the aptly coined “not for long” league. As a long time NFL fan I seriously hope that the damages will be minimal but only time will tell. One thing to be sure of the lockout will leave a footprint on the game with abbreviated practices, no access to facilities equipment rooms and trainers, no coaches tutelage ect but how big a footprint is the question. The league would like us to believe that once they are open for business again they will not skip a beat but realistically that makes about as much sense as Fermat’s Last Theorem.
The fact is that every NFL team has missed out on OTA’s, rookie mini camps and mini camp. Now this will affect each NFL franchise differently depending on how many veterans are on a team how well-disciplined the veterans are with their own conditioning and how many franchises have new head coaches which will be installing new playbooks and training regimens which will all have been missed due to the NFL lockout. How quickly these teams can adjust remains to be seen. But missing out on approx. 11 days of OTA’s, 3 days of rookie mini camp & 3 days of mini camp can’t help these new coaches or any team with rookies or new players. This year there will be six new head coaches and two interim head coaches that will be taking the helm on a permanent bases. All of these teams – 49ers, Broncos, Panthers, Titans, Browns, Raiders, Vikings & Cowboys will have relatively short time frame to learn playbooks, get to know players, bring rookies up to speed & get to know their new cities and fan bases. I’m sure theses coaches are all too professional to say anything and are used to dealing with adversity so I will say it for the fans – thanks NFL for putting our teams behind the eight ball.
The teams with returning coaches and teams composed of mostly veterans maybe have a slight advantage but even they can’t escape the problems of injured players that perhaps did not have access to their facilities to rehab in or access to their teams doctors who that feel comfortable with and have a rapport with. We need to look no further here than to one of the faces of the NFL Payton Manning. He recently underwent a disc related issue in his neck according to the Indianapolis Star. It was a not a major surgery but did require rehabbing and because of the NFL lockout Manning was unable to even use his teams facility and trainers so he recently stated “When you find a good trainer and a good rehab guy that you like, it’s a pretty special bond. These guys kind of know your body. So the fact that I haven’t had access to my guys and I’ve been somewhat on my own, I’ve been extra cautious and extra slow and making sure we don’t have any setbacks.”1 Now while this maybe good news to the rest of the teams in the league if Manning gets set back even a little it is not good news for the league or the NFLPA for that matter or the fans or the game. If the NFL would jeopardize one of their stars what is it doing to the players in the league who are not named Manning? If these athletes step onto the field not fully rehabbed or in their best conditioning how does this improve the game or make this something fans want to pay exorbitant prices to see? Worse yet if a player sustains a career ending injury because of this lockout this would make the league reckless and unconscionable.
“The NFLPA says injuries increased from 3.2 to 3.7 per week per team and the share of players injured increased to 63 percent compared to a 2002-09 average of 59 percent. The report also shows that 13 percent of all injuries required players to be placed on injured reserve this season, compared to an average of 10 percent for 2002-09. The union says that indicates the injuries which are occurring are more serious than in past years. ” One can only conclude with no OTA’s, mini-camps, access to team trainers & facilities this number will only rise for the 2011-12 team. This is something I will be monitoring during the course of the season but the league fully has anticipated a rise in injuries which is why part of the new agreement will be an increase in roster size which of course is little consolation to the injured player or their families. Recently I read an article that stated that “Of all the football statistics you’ll read in your time on Earth, none will be as shocking as this one: According to a 2006 report in the St. Petersburg Times, for every season a player spends on an NFL roster, his life expectancy decreases by almost three years. The average American male lives to be almost 75. According to the Times report, an NFL player, whose career lasts roughly four years on average, lives to be 55.” 3
Does anyone else find it particularly hypocritical this is the same league that touts it is concerned with player safety and wants to lessen concussion injuries, fines player for excessive hits yet is potentially putting all players at a much higher risk of injury. I wonder if the league will be imposing fines on themselves for putting players at undue risk all for what money, egos & dictatorship. The average tenure of an NFL player is only six years and the league seems hell-bent on shortening that as well. I genuinely hope I am wrong on these points and the NFL can pick up without a hitch, or injury to their players but somehow I doubt this. I have not even mentioned that the product the NFL will be putting on the field will probably not be very good for the first month of the season when they get started but somehow that seems less than irrelevant when talking injuries. The NFL is tarnishing their shield all by themselves and what they seem to forget is the game that they are supposed to be protecting and the games integrity is only as good as the players and their health. Here’s wishing that the NFL itself’s injury report states probably and not out.
1 taken from Yahoo news
2 injury number were taken from NFLPA reported in report called “Dangers of the Game of Football,” taken from NFL news website
3 By Gregg Doyel CBSSports.com National Columnist Dec. 23, 2010