Weekend injuries will put NFL under the not-so-great spotlight

By Mike Romor

An injury-filled weekend featuring the league’s stars is exactly what the NFL did not need.

Chicago Bears Jay Cutler and Lance Briggs, who are both expected to miss between one and two months, seemingly lucked out, as the injury bug took much larger bites on other players.

Green Bay lost the dependable Jermichael Finley to a neck injury on a vicious hit from Cleveland safety Tashaun Gipson, while Kansas City’s Jamaal Charles delivered a legal block to Houston linebacker Brian Cushing that broke Cushing’s leg and tore his LCL.

Future Hall of Famer and Indianapolis wide receiver Reggie Wayne suffered a torn ACL, as did St. Louis quarterback Sam Bradford.

But the news sure to have the greatest effect for its team came out of Tampa Bay. Led by the head coach on the hottest seat in the league, Greg Schiano, the Buccaneers could ill afford to lose any starters for the rest of the season, let alone the future of the franchise.

Naturally, Tampa Bay did lose that player in Doug Martin, who is out for the remainder of the season with a torn labrum in his left shoulder.

Martin had been one of the most productive running backs in the league since entering as a rookie last season, compiling 1,910 yards and 12 touchdowns in 22 career games.

The NFL capitalizes on its violence and, for what it’s worth, most of these injuries had nothing to do with intentionally vicious hits.

Despite that fact, with more research being funded and former players speaking out against the league, a week like this is dangerous for the NFL’s future.

In terms of head and neck injuries, every concussion brings forth the issue of player safety. Hard hits on a defenseless wide receiver cause two general reactions, usually with one preceding the other: “What a great hit,” and “I hope the wide receiver is OK.” The conflicting thoughts highlight exactly what makes the game so entertaining, but what will eventually be its demise.

The intensity and pure strength of NFL players make football the most popular sport in America, but as it has been for the past few years, the game needs to keep changing. It needs to change because of the inherent health risks that have always been a part of the sport, but have only been recently brought to the surface.

It’s not what any fan wants, but it’s what the game needs, even if it changes the sport completely. The changes in player safety that have taken place in the NFL in recent years are only a glimpse of what will come if injuries continue to trend upward.

If injury-riddled weeks like this one continue to have such an impact on the sport, morality and conscience will overtake the value of entertainment.