And will there even be a Super Bowl in 2012?
This year’s Super Bowl was a compelling game that started with Green Bay pouring it on and jumping to an 18 point lead. Momentum soon shifted as the Steelers righted the ship and almost pulled it out in the end.
Green Bay suffered some key injuries: long time pro-bowl veteran, Charles Woodson, 34, broke his collarbone in the 2nd quarter, while standout wide receiver, Donald Driver, 36, suffered a high ankle sprain. Knocked out for the rest of the game, both had to watch helplessly from the sidelines.
Injuries like these are part of the game, what players “signed up for”, and accept willingly. Yet the prospect of additional games next year, likely at the end of the season, when players are already worn down, is another matter.
I’ve taken part in several postseason runs where we have played 20 games. The long-term impact this game has on our bodies is well documented. Look no further than the players that came before we did.
Just a part of what Brady is referring to is the damage to the player’s brains (The NFL denied this for years, but it is now out in the open). As Alan Schwarz from the New York Times wrote:
A study commissioned by the NFL reports that Alzheimer’s disease or similar memory-related diseases appear to have been diagnosed in the league’s former players vastly more often than in the national population—including a rate of 19 times the normal rate for men ages 30 through 49.
NFL Lockout Looms and Seems Inevitable
Things look to get ugly between players and the league this off-season, as it seems the NFL is on an at-all-costs mission to extend the season from its current 16 game schedule to 18 once the NFLPA’s (National Football League Player’s Association) current collective bargaining agreement expires in March. Doubtful they will be playing in 2011, many players share James Harrison’s outlook. After the game last night, Harrison said he believes the chances for the 2011 season are zero.
Here’s the issue in a nutshell:
First and foremost, the NFL and the players need to figure out how to divide up nine billion dollars. Part of the NFL’s future revenue plan is to add more regular season games. Current TV Contracts for the NFL are a staggering $3.7 billion dollars. By adding two more games the NFL brings in more cash. Quantity over Quality is the NFL’s focus. The Players’ Association says take a hike: their primary concern is players’ health, long ignored by the NFL. The NFLPA hopes to make strides for both current and the forgotten former players.
Given all the data and research on former players that the NFL has in front of themselves now, it seems to make the most sense for the NFL to encourage a healthier approach going forward. However, its focus and goal is still on maximizing the league’s bottom line over players’ safety. The players know their health is on the line and that they have the opportunity to make positive change. Not just in the short term but in the long term, for their health and lives after the NFL.
Ray Lewis, 15 year pro with the Baltimore Ravens, had this to say:
If fans want to show their love, they should let everyone know that we are not machines. I’ve been blessed to play this game for so long, but it’s time to start thinking about what legacy and impact changes like this will leave on the players of tomorrow and us after we retire… I know our fans may not like preseason games and I don’t like all of them, but swapping two preseason games for two end-of-season games—when players already play hurt—comes at a huge cost for the player and team.
Recently, 12 Iowa football players were hospitalized for a kidney ailment known as Rhabdomyolysis caused by their strenuous off-season workouts. Rhabdomyolysis feels like muscle soreness, but it is dangerous, as it results in releasing broken down muscle fibers into the bloodstream. It can result in brown urine, which was reported by one of the players. In the worse cases, it can cause permanent kidney failure.
The NFL Players are very firm on their stance that their health will not be compromised. By standing firm, perhaps the NFL players will shed some light on the dangers of valuing quantity over quality, and that this attitude will trickle down to college, high school, and junior level players and their coaches.
Here’s hoping players’ health is the winner this off-season.