The NFL has a problem. Well, it has many problems, but for the sake of expediency let’s focus on one particular and immediate issue: everyone is injured.
Injuries always happen in the NFL, but the league is losing its most exciting and marketable stars at a staggering rate. Just look at this list from ESPN’s Adam Schefter, who had to take advantage of Twitter’s new 280-character limit just to publish a partial roll call.
Richard Sherman— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) November 10, 2017
Odell Beckham Jr.
Way too many.
How do you fix this? One would think this should be the issue that warrants emergency meetings and apoplectic fits from team owners, but the NFL has never properly prioritized player safety. In a league with non-guaranteed contracts and easily skirt-able concussion protocols, expendability is a feature, not a bug. This year, the attrition has simply accelerated.
It’s all part of the NFL’s celebrated “next man up” ethos, which glosses over the fact that devastating, season-ending injuries make the game much less fun. Losing Deshaun Watson to a torn ACL is a horrible blow. That the “next man up” behind the most exciting and talented rookie in years happens to be Tom Savage only makes matters sadder.
We’re roughly at the halfway point of the season, which means things can only get worse from here. This may be pessimistic, but in a league where you have to treat injuries as inevitable, it’s hard to be anything but.
If your favorite player is still healthy this week and not rehabbing a torn ligament or broken collarbone, then light up some votive candles and start praying. It's a miracle he's made it this far.