I know that injuries are a common place in football, and I know that half the battle is dealing with all the challenges that come up during a football season. Despite all that, I still think that this year’s NFL season had crazy potential to be one of the best in a long time if things didn’t get so out of hand.
If you looked at the amount of talent that was spread across the league before the regular season started, you would get goosebumps at some of the amazing match-ups that could’ve happened throughout the year. It’s a rare occurrence when a big number of teams are evenly matched, and this looked like the season that could’ve broken that trend. However, week after week, all-star players were going down left and right and slowly taking teams out of the mix. I mean, look at this list of star players that suffered injuries that put them out for multiple weeks: Jamaal Charles, Arian Foster, Le’Veon Bell, Julian Edelman, Marshawn Lynch, Jimmy Graham, Peyton Manning, Steve Smith Sr., Joe Flacco, Tony Romo, Andrew Luck, and Andy Dalton. That list already seems like a lot of key players falling victim to the injury bug, and that’s not even all of them.
A lot of those players are on teams that, despite the injuries, still made the playoffs. Like I said, it’s part of the game and you need depth in order to succeed in the NFL. But think of the blockbuster match-ups the league missed out on this year because of this, especially in primetime games. Looking at the list of Sunday Night and Monday Night Football Games, the fans missed out on: the possible last Manning-Brady game (which also had the Patriots missing Julian Edelman, Danny Amendola, and Dion Lewis on offense); a Broncos-Bengals match-up with playoff implications that ended up having two back-up quarterbacks facing off (still a great game); a huge game between the Patriots and Texans. Those are just the primetime games, which still ended up being close, good games to watch despite everything.
Fans also missed out on Steve Smith’s goodbye tour (which is now delayed until next year), fully healthy Patriots, Seahawks, Texans, Broncos, Steelers and Cowboys teams (who all are/could’ve been big playoff contenders with huge potential when they have everyone), and, in the long run, a star-studded playoffs. It was still a great season with great moments, but in a season where you’re celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Super Bowl, it’s rough to see so many wasted opportunities.
It also should make everyone take a step back and think about whether or not they really want an 18-game season. I’m a huge football fan, and obviously the more I get to watch of the sport, the better. But I’m not a fan of watching teams lose their core players week after week, which would only get worse with two more games to worry about. The playoffs are what teams, fans, and the league should be worried about, and everything takes a step in the wrong direction when injuries take over the entire league.