The NFL Has An Injury Problem, and it’s not healing
J.J. Watt. Odell Beckham Jr. David Johnson. Eric Berry. These are just a few high profile names that have succumbed to the NFL’s injury bug this season. Sports injuries are a given, but this NFL season has raised the severity of this injury problem to new heights. Simply put, when 5-6 players get injured per game, something needs to change.
Likely it’s the physicality of the game. The sheer fact that multiple players get injured every game, whether from structural injuries or the NFL’s concussion epidemic (which deserves an entire article of its own), is alarming, mainly because it means that the league’s own players aren’t properly educated on how to protect themselves.
There are many more high-profile players who’ve been injured and are out for the year, but you could fill an entire roster with the injured players from this season. So it begs to ask how we can make the game of football safer, not just for head injuries, but for injuries in general. Because the injury pace that’s been established this season is not normal.
With the platform they have, players have been speaking out against what they think is another contributor to the injury problem: Thursday Night Football. Every week, two teams that played the previous Sunday then have four days of turnaround for their next game. As a result, a disproportionate amount of injuries have been occurring on Thursday Night Football, leading to calls from players and experts alike to end Thursday night games.
Another reason for the injury problem is likely that players today are bigger, faster and stronger than their predecessors and therefore hit harder. But if this is true, shouldn’t that also mean that the players getting hit are also bigger, faster and stronger and should be better equipped to take such a blow?
Obviously, the injury bug has had more light shed on it because the players getting injured are marquee and big box office players, but it doesn’t mean that this problem hasn’t existed in the past. In fact, every year since 2002, when the league expanded to 32 teams, the number of injuries has steadily risen each year, while injuries have always been, and will always be a part of sports. But that doesn’t mean that this wave of injuries in the NFL has to become the norm.