An Injury Ridden Season
So much has been made of the NFL’s declining TV revenues and the possible reasons for it, whether it’s cord cutters no longer able to get games on cable or fans angry over player protests and vowing not to watch.
Maybe, however, the issue is more at the heart of the sport. Football, by its nature, is a game of attrition. Players get injured and are lost, either for a week or two or for the season. When they are especially important players – think quarterbacks here – the impact is immense.
Was Monday night’s matchup between the Detroit Lions and Green Bay Packers somehow enhanced by Brett Hundley at quarterback for the Pack instead of the injured Aaron Rodgers? Was the Houston Texans’ game Sunday somehow better because quarterback Deshaun Watson, defensive end J.J. Watt and linebacker Whitney Mercilus are spectators? It was not.
Andrew Luck hadn’t taken a snap for the Indianapolis Colts this season before going on injured reserve with a bad shoulder. The Arizona Cardinals lost quarterback Carson Palmer to a broken arm. Are you eager to watch the Cardinals as Drew Stanton calls the signals?
According to spotrac.com, a website that specializes in sports contracts, about $380 million of NFL salary cap dollars are accounted for by players on injured reserve. In 2017 cash, that’s $268 million.
The New York Giants, 1-7 and wasting away, would surely be a bit more competitive with receivers Odell Beckham Jr. and Brandon Marshall available. They were lost in the same game. The Miami Dolphins certainly would be capable of scoring more points were Ryan Tannehill healthy. The Kansas City Chiefs lost their top running back, Spencer Ware, in preseason, and Pro Bowl safety Eric Berry in the opener.
The game needs its stars, especially its star quarterbacks. Because the backups are not attractions and difference in talent between No. 1 and No. 2 is often beyond measure, the game suffers.
So maybe that’s a reason people are turned off to the NFL and turning off the NFL. Their favorite players – the best players – are nowhere to be seen.
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