The NFL Injury Bug

Benjamin Dawson, Contributor

Americans love their football.  The sport brings people together, and is exhilarating to watch each and every Sunday.  Recently, however, the NFL has suffered a severe ratings drop on their national television broadcasts.  The game is still as lively as ever, but something big is missing: the stars of the NFL.

The 2017 season has not been kind to many of the NFL’s top athletes. While this sport is very susceptible to injuries, it seems as if all of the players taking the hit this year are top level talents.  To name just a few:

QB Aaron Rodgers (Broken Collarbone): Super Bowl XLV MVP, 2x NFC Player of the Year, 6x Pro Bowl Selection.

WR Odell Beckham Jr (Broken Ankle): Only player in NFL history to have 1,300+ receiving yards while playing in 12 or fewer games in season, Madden 16 Cover Athlete

RB David Johnson (Broken Wrist) : Franchise running back for Arizona Cardinals, over 1,000 yards rushing AND receiving last season

DE JJ Watt ( Fractured Tibia) : 2x NFL sacks leader, 2x All Pro Selection, 3x Defensive Player of the Year, MVP runner-up.

CB Richard Sherman (Ruptured Achilles) : 4x Pro Bowl Selection, Madden 15 Cover Athlete,  2x NFL Interceptions Leader.

WR Julian Edelman (Torn ACL): 3x Patriots leader in catches, 2x Super Bowl Champion.

S Eric Berry (Torn Achilles) : 6x Pro Bowl Selection, 3x First Team All-Pro Selection, highest paid safety in NFL.

Joe Thomas (Torn Triceps) : Set record with over 10,000 consecutive snaps played, 10x Pro Bowl Selection.

All of the athletes are the faces of their franchises, and ultimately are the reason that a fan watches their team every week. When these players go down, backups are forced to come in and fill some pretty large shoes. Most people aren’t interested in seeing a matchup of backup quarterbacks that NFL fans have never heard of before.

The burning question: WHY are all of these injuries happening?  Besides the simple fact that football is naturally a grueling sport, or that some injuries may be complete flukes, there are other possibilities as to what is cutting so many seasons short.

The most common explanation is the long and tedious schedule.  Playing 16 games with one each week can be very taxing to a player. Recently, many players have been very outspoken about Thursday night games.  Each week, one game is played on Thursday, instead of the traditional Sunday and Monday.

Buffalo Bills offensive lineman Richie Incognito is the most vocal supporter of banning Thursday Night Football.  “They suck.  They throw a wrench in our schedule.  It’s absolutely ridiculous that we have to do this.  As physical as this game is, as much work and preparation that goes into this, to force us to play games on four-day weeks, it’s completely unfair…”

Many people believe another reason involves the NFL’s new “Collective Bargaining Agreement”.   The CBA restricts the amount of contact practices a team is allowed to have every week, which leaves players more unprepared for the hard hits they take during games.

Or could the answer be something much simpler? NFL athletes are some of the greatest athletes in the world, and are becoming stronger and more agile.  Harder collisions with players going at faster speeds can lead to a bad ending for either player. Let’s hope that the injury bug the NFL is facing is not becoming the new norm, and that fans will be seeing their favorite players on the field again soon.