With Roger Goodell and the NFL currently trying to do whatever it takes to make the NFL safer for the players, Week 7 of the 2013 season was not a great example of the emphasis placed on player safety. Not only were there a crazy amount of injuries, but there were multiple season-ending injuries for prominent players.
Bears QB Jay Cutler tore his groin in a loss to the Washington Redskins, and will be out 4-6 weeks. His teammate, Lance Briggs, fractured his shoulder and will be sidelined 6 weeks. Buccaneers RB Doug Martin tore his labrum in a loss to the Atlanta Falcons, and could miss the remainder of the season, but Head Coach Greg Schiano will not commit to the injury being season-ending.
Texans star LB Brian Cushing suffered a broken leg and a torn LCL in a loss to the Kansas City Chiefs, and is done for the year. Eagles QB Nick Foles was also knocked out of the Eagles loss to the Cowboys, suffering a concussion.
Rams QB Sam Bradford tore his ACL in a loss to the Carolina Panthers, and will be out for the rest of the year. Reggie Wayne also tore his ACL in the Sunday Night game in a loss to the Denver Broncos, ending his season, as well as his streak of 189-consecutive games played.
The most serious injury of the day happened in the Packers-Browns game. Packers TE Jermichael Finley took a hard hit to the head, and suffered a crazy neck injury, leaving him in the critical care unit for several hours. He managed to bruise his spinal cord in his neck, and the timetable for his return is unknown. Finley is currently seeking a second opinion on whether he should even continue with his NFL career.
With all of the attention recently on concussions and post-career health concerns, players are starting to be heavily fined, and even suspended for unnecessary hits to the head. As a result, many of the recent injuries have been knee and leg injuries, because defensive players are opting to go low to avoid a fine from the NFL.
Washington Redskins safety Brandon Meriweatherwas just suspended 2 games for his “head-shots” on defenseless receivers. He was also fined earlier this season for a helmet-to-helmet hit on Packers RB Eddie Lacy.
Packers WR Randall Cobb broke his leg last week, on a low hit from Ravens rookie safety Matt Elam. Packers QB Aaron Rodgers didn’t take kindly to the hit, and had a few choice words for Elam after it happened.
The NFL is looking to crack down on repeat offenders like Meriweather and Ndamukong Suh, threatening suspensions as serious options to prevent these types of hits from taking place.
This situation puts defensive players in a tough position, as they are being forced to think about where they are hitting other players, what body part they are leading with, and how much force they are exerting. In a fast, physical game, this can be tough to balance and think about when moves and decisions are made at such a rapid level.
The solution to this problem is unclear, but it must be addressed in the near future for the sake of the players, and the overall product the NFL is looking todisperse to its fans.
By Dave Guberman