Week after week, drive after drive, players are down with injury. My fantasy team is officially in ruins. While injury is often a topic of discussion in the NFL, the issue this time is not centered around concussions, but rather season or career ending knee and ankle injuries. After Le’veon Bell, Steve Smith, Reggie Bush, Arian Foster, Jamaal Charles, Dion Lewis and many more of the league's best offensive threats suffered season ending injuries, it became very clear that the NFL has a bigger issue on its hands.
It feels like the NFL hits a new low every week, yet no one has come out and condemned the action (or lack thereof) taken. While the league historically has focused around concussion preventing protocol, focus has began to shift to ligament injury prevention. This season, widely known as the “year of the injury,” has seen over 25% of the league go down with injury. While not all are knee or ankle related, a main majority of the high profile figures do go down with that variety of damage.
Every year it seems, a few high profile, high paid athletes suffer a season ending injury, but this year is different. This year, over 300 players have suffered injury, costing the NFL hundreds of millions of dollars for players that are on the payroll yet just sitting on the bench. With all this in mind, it’s time for the NFL and its fans alike to begin to speculate just why these injuries are taking place, and how to stop them.
Perhaps a new form of cleat, or a new turf would do knees well, however nothing will change unless it’s tested, so now it is on the NFL to experiment.
Undoubtedly, this is an issue that will not be solved overnight. Including the fact that players likely don’t have grounds to file lawsuit against the NFL for knee injuries drastically slows the league's urgency to resolve this issue. As I see it, the only way for the NFL to actually promote a full fledged investigation into the exponential increase in injuries comes on the heels of the fans and the players. Be it a bunch of angry letters to Goodell, a league wide petition headed by the NFLPA, or perhaps even a boycott by fans.
It will take time before people realize the actual severity of this injury crisis, but when they do, immediate and wholehearted action needs to be taken. What the NFL decides to do right now is besides the point, but they need to stop denying the fact that NFL injuries are on the rise, and without action this issue is going to get worse.