Next Man Up

The Packers have already been bitten by the injury bug. How telling that player interviews include linemen2014 Packers saying that they are “used to” it…that injured starters are expected on this team. Somethin’s not right Packernation.

Mike McCarthy is as good at player management as any coach in the league and more forward thinking than many but we still seem to start each year hurting and expecting to miss more players than other teams as the season progresses.

Is our quarterback safe this year? Will our offensive line have the continuity to keep Aaron upright? Green Bay has a difficult start to the season, kicking off against Seattle first but then three games against NFC North rivals in the first five weeks. A team that seems primed for a great year can easily be crippled by injury. We saw it last season, and we all would hate to see it again.

ttWhen all is said and done…these guys have to get on the field and play. The only way to protect them is to keep them off the field. Football is a collision sport and hopefully (unless the NFL keeps putting “emphasis” on certain things) that isn’t going to change. It is interesting to me that the NFL has said that the reason they are putting emphasis on illegal use of the hands is to avoid injuries to players. Yet the injuries don’t seem to be coming from hands to the face.

What can the NFL do to limit injuries? What can the Packers do? Personally, I think the answer is in attitude. We have to start being the team that does the hurting before we will stop being the team that is always hurt.

I know, that sounds like a violent answer and it’s not very scientific either but I can’t be the only one that is at a loss about the injuries this team has sustained and has come to expect. The easy answer is to call out the training staff as if they are the reason that a player gets rolled up on and breaks a bone or snaps a ligament. The easy answer, however, does not stand to reason. This Packers team is in as good a shape as any in the league and is burning defenses in particular out with the no huddle offense. The strength and conditioning staff are doing their job. Injuries can be the result of lack of conditioning – fatigue = loss of coordination. But more often injuries are the result of simple physics working against a player. Leverage, working against a player, trumps strength every time. Don’t believe me? Just ask someone who has taken a low hit with their cleat firmly planted in the ground. Then ask them what they did after football.

In the end, the coaches’ saying that injuries are “part of the game” is true but it is just not good enough for Packernation any more. This team needs to start dishing out punishment instead of taking it. Yeah, maybe that means that other teams get injured…hey, sorry about that but it reminds me of a saying I heard once…”Coulda been worse…coulda been me.”

I just want to see how this team can do with the bulk of it’s players on the field for a change! Is anybody with me?



Next Man Up — 8 Comments

  1. We’ll never eliminate all injuries from the game of football, but there are some obvious changes to the game which would have immediate impacts – if we really took injuries seriously. As you laugh to yourself about these suggestions, also ask yourself how serious you are about eliminating injuries:

    Eliminate cleats from the game and you eliminate many of the causes of soft tissue and bone injuries. Players can no longer get up to speed as quickly, which cuts down on full speed impacts. Their feet are no longer stapled to the ground, helping to alleviate many blown knees and ankles from changing direction too quickly or being hit from the side with their feet planted.

    Eliminate helmets and players will stop leading with their heads on both sides of the ball. This would help with concussions and neck injuries.

    Think these things can’t be done or won’t have an impact?

    We played tackle football in the grade school yard growing up (against school rules, btw) every other day. I saw 1 broken leg in 8 years, no concussions, and not a single blown knee or ankle.

    Aussie rules football is as violent as NFL, yet they have only a fraction of the head/neck injuries – because they don’t use helmets. Rugby also compares favorably to the NFL for head and neck injuries. Why? Because the players of these games know better than to lead with their unprotected heads.

    American football players are taught from an early age (grade school and high school) that their heads are protected with helmets. Nothing could be further from the truth.

    • Yes lets just eliminate equipment all together and strap on a couple flags around the waist of these pro’s so they do not get hurt! How long do you think it will take for even the most conservative viewer to turn the channel to watch a tennis match instead of football when the day comes that there is no more hard hitting smash mouth gladiators doing battle? While you make a good point with comparing football to rugby it is a totally diffent game all together if it wasn’t the I’m sure the NFL would call it NRL instead.

      • I knew I could count on at least one person to show their true colors and try to twist the facts.

        Apparently you weren’t around in the ’60s?

        Helmets weren’t introduced as anything more than leather hats until 1940 – when they became plastic hats. It wasn’t until 1971 that NFL helmets actually absorbed energy. The theory was that they’d make players safer. In reality, they’ve become the number one weapon for players to use on each other. Head and neck injuries have gone up ever since – and with much greater frequency than player additions with expansion teams. The fact is that with each new helmet design, injuries have gone up, not down or remained even.

        And cleats weren’t refined enough to matter much until roughly the same time – as artificial turf was introduced. Are you old enough to remember the influx of blown knees and concussions when artificial turf was first used? Again, the injuries continue to go up, not down or remain even.

        I grew up watching the transformation in the ’60s and ’70s. I fail to see how either one improved the game in any way. Now fields management is a much bigger issue than ever, even on grass. Everyone complains about Soldier Field and the footing. For the better part of a century, it wasn’t a factor at all. And Soldier Field hasn’t gotten any worse, players’ expectations for footing have increased.

        The game that I love and grew up with was designed to be played outdoors – on grass – in the elements. With grass and weather, footing, sound blocking, fundamentals, and mistakes are all huge parts of the game. I’d pay much more to watch a SB at Lambeau Field in February than one in a dome in Dallas or New Orleans.

        And if you think players didn’t hit hard in the ’60s and ’70s, you’re sadly mistaken. Time to watch some NFL game films of the past to jog your memory.

        The NFL was already well on it’s way before either of these uniform “enhancements” were reality, and before artificial turf or domes. It didn’t need any of them to become America’s favorite sport, and it doesn’t need them to remain being America’s favorite sport.

        Of course rugby is different to the NFL. So is the AFL. And both games are similar in some aspects too. I’ll assume that you have no idea what the AFL is, since you didn’t mention it. I grew up in WI, watching football. I was amazed and hooked on AFL from the first match I saw in 2003. There’s some rules that need tweaking before it’ll take off internationally, but it definitely has potential. And it’s been around for much longer than the NFL, since 1859. Try telling an Aussie (pronounced Ozzie) that AFL is a lesser sport than NFL and you’ll get an earful of how their sport is vastly tougher. And they make some valid points in that regard. While many Aussies have come to enjoy the NFL, most are quick to point out that a true gladiator shouldn’t need pads and helmets to hit a ball carrier, nor to take a hit from a defender who’s not wearing helmets and pads. AFL not only has just as violent collisions as the NFL with players running at full speed in opposite directions, they also have many more collisions and tackles per match. They have 4 20 minute quarters with 18 players per side. They have 4 players interchangeable, and 1 substitute. If they run short of players, they play with less (doesn’t happen often). They don’t wear helmets or pads, but do wear cleats. Yet, they have a small percentage of the soft tissue and head/neck injuries of the NFL. Go figure!

        Going from tackling to flag football is exaggerating my point to the extreme. But your opinion also emphasizes my point very well. Many of you talk a good game about safety, but when it comes right down to it, you aren’t willing to change anything which actually impacts player safety. You’d rather see players getting career ending injuries, possibly crippled or killed, than do anything to actually make them safer. That’s all fine, if that’s the game you really want.

        But don’t try and make these equipment changes into something they’re not and never have been. They’re all about making players faster, stronger, and the hits more deadly to each other. They’ve done nothing to enhance the game of football itself or make it safer.

  2. Brady does make an interesting point. As a smaller than “normal” child, I learned quickly that delivering a blow to the opponent was less painful than him delivering one to me. Unfortunately, that can’t always be the case when someone falls on your “planted” leg or hits you from the side.

    The fact is that gladiators have been well compensated for their entertainment value since (at least) the days of ancient Rome. We’re so much more civilized now… or are we!? :)

  3. David, I played the same type of schoolyard ball all my elementary and Middle School years. Especially fun when there was a few inches of snow on the ground. Never an injury and we hit as hard as anyone…What do you think the biggest barrier to any kind of “retro football” is? Is it marketing? Do you think that the fans in some way like to see the “thumbs turned” when a player goes down? I think the NFL community is not ready to accept football without pads and cleats but at the same time, one of the first things I taught my son when playing halfback was to “clear his cleats” whenever he had a hitter coming in low. The trajectory of the game right now is to get faster and not slower…but you make an interesting point…and I will say about your point about the Super Bowl at Lambeau in February…Heck Yeah!!! Any anyone who thinks Green Bay doesn’t have the infrastructure…I will disabuse you of that notion…Let’s do it!!!
    I don’t think the NFL will go back to your style of football…but I love it nonetheless. Thanks for reading.

  4. Just to be clear, I’d like to keep the pads, shorten the cleats, and revert some older form of helmets. I think cleats should help to keep players upright, while being able to slide on grass/artificial turf when enough pressure is applied, so that their knees and ankles are not the weakest link. Helmets should keep heads from cracking open, but players shouldn’t be confident enough in them to lead with their heads – as they do today.

    Agreed that none of this is likely to happen. I do feel strongly that it would reduce injuries though. Thanks for the post and reply Brady. :)

  5. I’d say the biggest barrier is a false belief that “newer is always better”. Until doctors and the NFL come out with valid studies to show that the severity and recurrence of injuries has gone up instead of down with newer turfs and equipment, the public will tend to trust the newer technologies.

    The second biggest barrier I see is the ignorance of fans who think the game would suffer in any way if the equipment took a step backward. The bulk of today’s NFL fans weren’t watching football in the 60’s and 70’s, and that’s a shame.

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