Kemmeter column: Injuries again impact NFL early in season
By Gene Kemmeter
The National Football League has to be concerned this year with the number of injuries to quarterbacks in the first two weeks of the 2019 season.
Quarterback is the premier position in the NFL these days, and the loss of four starting quarterbacks after the first two weeks of the season has to be alarming to NFL leaders, which need the spotlight of starting quarterbacks to guarantee continued success.
Already, three potential Super Bowl teams are without their starting quarterbacks, one for at least six weeks of the 18-game season, and two for the rest of the season.
Just before this season opened, Indianapolis Colts’ quarterback Andrew Luck, a four-time Pro-Bowl selection, announced his retirement because of lingering injuries. He has suffered from multiple injuries in his career, missing the entire 2017 season with a torn labrum in his throwing shoulder and suffering a lacerated kidney during the 2015 season. He took the team to the playoffs last season after his return.
Last Sunday, New Orleans quarterback Drew Brees suffered a hand injury that will sideline him for an estimated six weeks, diminishing his team’s chances in the battle for a Super Bowl berth. The former Super Bowl Most Valuable Player has also been an All-Pro and Pro-Bowl selection.
Pittsburgh Steeler quarterback Ben Roethlisberger also was injured Sunday, suffering an elbow injury that put an end to his 2019 season and left grim Super Bowl hopes for his team. Roethlisberger has led the Steelers to two victories in three Super Bowls in his 16 seasons.
Quarterback Nick Foles, a former Super Bowl MVP for the Philadelphia Eagles, signed a free agent contract this year with the Jacksonville Jaguars to raise their Super Bowl chances, but now he is out for 11 weeks on injury reserve with a broken collarbone suffered Sunday.
Green Bay Packers fans know the injury situation with quarterbacks well, especially after quarterback Aaron Rodgers suffered broken collarbones in the 2013 and 2017 seasons, effectively ending their post-season chances.
Rodgers’ injuries have had an impact on various seasons, something foreign to Packers fans because his predecessor, Brett Favre, started a record 297 consecutive regular season games (321 including the playoffs) and was seemingly indestructible.
While NFL team owners and officials are concerned about the injuries and have been implementing rules to guard against them, such as prohibiting intentional actions to target quarterbacks or other players to take them out of games. The brutality of the game is one of the reasons the games attract a massive television base to watch the action.
Pro football is entertaining to the fans in the stands or watching on television, but they aren’t the players who have to collide with 300-pound linemen and faster players who are in much better physical shape than those from decades ago.
Still, the loss of key player today does have a dramatic impact on the season for a team. That affects the team’s revenue bottom line, a vital factor in today’s NFL.