Is It Just Me or Is the NFL Doing a Bad Job of Protecting Players?

James WilliamsonSenior Writer IOctober 25, 2008

My fellow writer, Eddie Rossell, wrote an article about the NFL and safety. He made very good points, stating how the NFL, like some businesses, does not really care about its workers as much as they care about the green paper known as money.

Eddie, this article is being written thanks to you, man. You pointed it out and got me thinking. So it's dedicated to you.

Eddie got me thinking: If the NFL is so concerned about its players, then why is everyone getting hurt? I have seen more star players go out of the game than I have ever seen in my 19 years of life.

I don’t mean to say that the other players are irrelevant, but I must ask you Patriot fans this: Would you pay more to see Tom Brady play or Matt Cassel play? These star players sell the tickets and jerseys, and where are they? “Uh, doctor? We have an injured linebacker in room 306 who wants a Xbox with Madden '09.”

The NFL says they are getting tougher on big hits and injuries. Well, where is the progress?

Look at what has happened.

Tom Brady gets hit in the leg as he tries to get rid of the ball and bye bye NFL MVP. I always regarded the Patriots' offensive line as one of the best, since Brady knows the pocket as well as he does himself. It was just mind-boggling to see him go out against the Chiefs.

I was actually afraid he would get the perfect season this time. But I think it was, in a way, good for the league, since he can spend more time with his little boy and examine his life outside of football, while giving me more of a hope that a new team will win the Super Bowl. I can’t stand dynasties!

What is even weirder is that Brady is one of the young ones. I thought it would be those aging New England linebackers that would go out, not the NFL’s most intense player. And that is a compliment to him.

Now, Rodney Harrison was only so surprising since he is 35 years old. The Dallas Cowboys also lost their own safety, Roy Williams, to a broken forearm for the season. Shawn Springs of the Redskins is also out temporarily.

Football has been known for hurting teams, but the Seattle Seahawks are not hurt, they are paralyzed from the neck down. Quarterback Matt Hasselbeck is going to miss his third straight game with a back injury. Former Super Bowl MVP Deion Branch is also hurt on the heel.

From what I heard on last week’s Sunday Night Football, the Seahawks are really down. A lot of their backups are starting at receiver, as well as quarterback. Head Coach Mike Holmgren might retire on a losing season if this keeps up.

Quarterback has been a major problem lately. Along with Brady and Hasselbeck, six other teams have had injuries to quarterback. Trent Edwards from Buffalo is back on track. TB's Brian Griese and Cincinnati’s Carson Palmer are benched, along with one of my favorite players, Vince Young.

Tony Romo is down for a couple of weeks, and even Peyton Manning is not himself lately. Kansas City has put quarterbacks Damon Huard and Brodie Croyle on injured reserve. This is becoming the year of the backup.

What is happening? It is like the NFL has turned 180 degrees overnight. Football is supposed to be surprising, but if I get any more surprises, then I’ll start to wonder if a higher being is involved.

It doesn’t stop at quarterback, though. Colts running back Joseph Addai is out probably a few weeks, making Dominique Rhodes the starter.

New England has had more running-back trouble than any other team this year. Laurence Maroney has been placed on IR, and LaMont Jordan is down for now. Now, backup Sammy Morris is expected to miss the next game. New England has activated BenJarvus Green-Ellis from the practice squad.

Tell me, commissioner: How do you expect the public to believe that these players are protected when the practice squad has to be used?

No offense to practice squads, but it is rare to see so many starters go down. New England was practically fit as a fiddle last year. Now they fill up the first floor of the local hospital. Who is next?

Shawne Merriman, one of the best linebackers in the league, is out for the season with damaged ligaments. The Giants' sole Pro Bowler from last year, Osi Umenyiora, is out for the season as well. Good thing Justin Tuck is doing so well this year. Cornerback Al Harris may have a dead career with an injury to his spleen.

What really scares me is that we are just done with half the season. Is Adrian Peterson going to break his ankle next week? Are the 'Niners going to lose so many receivers that they’ll give Jerry Rice a call? What is next?

If this is what Roger Goodell calls progress, then can we go back to the way it was before? Wide receiver Anquan Boldin got a helmet-to-helmet collision with safety Eric Smith, and Kurt Warner considered retiring because he felt responsible for throwing the ball too high. This has got to stop as soon as possible, if not now.

I don’t know how, but I don’t think fines are going to do everything. The NFL has to stop pretending and let these players know that they will have little protection, or really do something about it.

Maybe they should do a weight limit for positions, or keep people around the sidelines that can make sure the players that are shoved out of bounds are not hurt. Suspend a player for hurting another player and stop with the fines.

Or better yet, take those fines and give them to Mike Ditka, who is trying to get medical aid for old players. Those guys played with twice as much danger and maybe 10 percent of what stars get today.

What do you think? Please comment.


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