The National Football League has been screaming from the mountaintop about player safety for the past couple of years. They’ve instructed referees to be very strict about penalizing helmet to helmet hits. They’ve limited hitting quarterbacks to about a four-inch spot between their chest and waist—an approximation. Kick-offs have been moved up to the 35-yard line to cut down on the number of returns, which are the most violent plays in football.
I’ve got four reasons for that statement.
Thursday Night Football
The New York Giants crushed the Carolina Panthers last night. Am I writing this on a Monday morning? A Tuesday morning? Aren’t Sunday and Monday the only nights we have NFL football?
No they aren’t. We now have Thursday football the first 15 weeks of the 17-week season.
Here’s the typical week’s schedule for an NFL team, assuming a Sunday game. Monday is film day. Tuesday is an off day. Practices start again on Wednesdays. Why? Because it takes that long for players to physically recover from the car crash that is an NFL game each week. It gets worse for a player with each successive season in the league.
It’s ridiculous to ask these players to play a game four days after being in a car crash, a crash that gets more violent and damaging each and every year as players get so much bigger, faster and stronger.
The NFL can’t be too concerned about player safety when they’re using referees who last year were officiating games like the huge Central New York battle between Cortland and Ithaca. Those Red Dragons and Bombers do get after each other, but none of them intimidates a referee into stuttering as the Eagles’ LeSean McCoy claims the Ravens’ Ray Lewis did last Sunday.
Sunday night the referees allowed Lions’ quarterback Matthew Stafford to get up off his butt and continue running until he got sacked—AGAIN—six yards further behind the line. His knee hit and then he sat on the ground before getting up and running some more. The Lions ended up challenging the spot and won the challenge.
I know. No one’s been hurt seriously yet because of the replacement referees. I’ve got lots of experience with medical studies and my response is that the number of games played so far is a very small sample size. Someone will be hurt badly on one of these screwed up calls. Soon.
I’ll credit ESPN’s Colin Cowherd with talking about this Thursday morning, but I’ve wondered about this for a while. Why is it okay for the NFL to release injury information about its players? Again, being familiar with the medical HIPAA laws, that’s a violation of the player/patient’s privacy. I know they probably signed a waiver, but why?
Why should teams let their opponent that week know where a player might be hurting? How safe is that?
18-Game Regular Season
This may never happen, but the league has talked about going to an 18-game regular season schedule. It’s too much. Players have a hard enough time making it through 16 car crashes.
The NFL is worried about being sued by former players. That’s the “safety” issue at hand here.
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