I heard the phrase regarding the NFL meaning “Not for Long” back in the day. Jerry Glanville, coach of the Atlanta Falcons, was filmed talking to a referee. The conversation occurred in the middle of a game. Jerry didn’t like the Ref’s call against his team. He wanted the guy to understand whenever penalty calls cost his team field position or contribute to losing a game. The like of which threatens his livelihood. Too many of those types of incidents, and a coach might get fired for losses.
Owners, managers, and the commissioner of the game get paid handsomely for their positions. They are comfortably stationed at home during games, in a hotel, or at sky suites at the stadium. In addition, individually, they benefit from their ownership tax write-offs or profits from various lucrative income streams. Thus, General Managers enjoy their highly paid salaries while moving players around like chess pieces.
Coaches are a lot more vulnerable; their job is to “just win, Baby.” Yet, they have a more stable position in that they at least control the game plans. That way, the outcome of a game is almost in their hands, depending upon the players on the team.
Football has been my favorite viewing sport since the late sixties. I’ve followed the exploits of its growth to pass baseball as the favorite national game under the management of commissioner Pete Rozelle. I remember the competition for players and public attention between the American Football League (AFL) and National Football League (NFL). They finally merged in a business move that benefited both leagues. Thus, they form the present National Football League.
It has been a wild ride. My favorite team, the San Francisco Forty-Niners, has won a few championships. It’s a long story as to how I became a fan of the Niners during the days of John Brodie. But especially since I began as a Green Bay Packer fan while living in my hometown of Milwaukee. The bottom line is I have watched from afar how a sports business rose as the nation’s favorite viewing sport.
Back in the day, most players would start and end their careers with one team. Those careers were longer, with the stars cementing better play to earn modest salaries. Most would play the entire game. Most went an entire season without getting injured enough to miss a game or a season.
Today I find myself feeling for the players. They are bigger, stronger, faster, and indeed, make millions of dollars more during a season. The only problem is too many players get injured during the game. Others suffered injuries during practice. An anomaly occurred on my favorite team last week. The kicker pulled his groin during warmups. More likely, the injury prevents them from finishing a game, most times preventing their participation in several games. And heaven forbid, prohibits them from playing the remaining season of games.
Nowadays, after a tackle by one or a group of players on a running back, quarterback, tight end, or wide receiver. A fan holds their breath to see if their team players will get up off the ground. Last Sunday, during his first start of a game, our prized rookie Quarterback (QB) suffered a sprained knee during the game. From my perspective, he ran too much, but then he is a rookie. I am beginning to wonder if any coach on the Niners teaches our future star how to try to protect himself when running in place of passing the ball. I’m also wondering if the head coach has any idea of teaching his young QB the basics of a first-year pro.
There is so much movement between signing free agents or a team’s practice squad because of Injuries. Each Sunday, you almost need a program to identify players on a team.
There have been numerous studies as to why so many players get injured. The answer is always the same. That players are bigger, stronger, and faster. That may well be, but these players are playing for family members. Somebody ought to study how many family members, friends a player supports with their players’ salary. It should also be said that too many of them are here today, gone tomorrow within a short time. More so by an injury or series of injuries costing them a lengthy career in a game they love.
Think about it; my team lost its top running back for the season about fifteen minutes into the first game of the year. I won’t go into all the injuries suffered by the Niners last year, as it derailed their entire season. They went from a playoff contender to a mediocre team, winning six and losing ten games: the main reason, injuries to key personnel. The Niners’ injury issues were similar to several teams last year.
Today, the conversation centers around our starting quarterback being injury-prone. In the last four years as a starter, his availability averages five or six games out of a sixteen-game (seventeen this year) season. The mantra is always the next man up. As sports fans, we are consumed with winning. A man injured, bring in a replacement.
The question being, how can we cut down on some of the injuries. Otherwise, players have no option but to find other interests in life. Currently, parents are not letting their children participate in football leagues because of the injury problem. If there isn’t a change soon, more fans will turn away too. In addition, seasonal injury problems have begun showing up in pro or minor league basketball and baseball. How long before we all say we have had enough of sports.
Solutions to this problem must be found if we continue to enjoy watching or playing sports.
Peace, blessings, stay healthy, vigilant for our American rights. Make it a day in which Jesus Christ would be proud of you,
Codis Hampton II Author & Commentator
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