NFL 18-game schedule puts careers, lives on the line

It seems ironic in today’s game that the NFL actually wants to expand it regular season by two games.

Trainers, coaches and even players are attempting to treat concussions, among other injuries, with more awareness than ever before.

This season the Green Bay Packers, considered a Super Bowl favorite, lost their starting running back (knee) for the season. The Philadelphia Eagles, going through one of the biggest quarterback turnovers in recent memory, saw their incumbent Kevin Kolb go down with a concussion, drastically altering the 2010 season for Kolb, the Eagles, and some guy named Michael Vick.

And this was just in week one!

Recently, we have seen numerous players, like Steelers legend Mike Webster, pass away too early, whether they be taking their own life or from brain damage suffered at some point in their football careers.

The NFL suits who are putting the dollar ahead of the person are out of their minds.

According to All About Traumatic Brian Injury (, The American Journal of Sports Medicine estimates three to four concussions occur each year in an average 50-player high school football team. Before players even have a chance to prove themselves in the collegiate ranks, their lives have already been put in danger.

“16-game season already takes enough of a toll on a (player’s) body,” wrote Cardinals receiver Larry Fitzgerald on his Twitter page. “Extra games=More injuries,” he went on to say.

He then became visibly agitated with people questioning his status as an NFL player.

“Maybe if (you) were actually playing (you) would understand but CLEARLY (you) don’t.

“Being able to walk when you get older is something players care about. What league do (you) play in that makes (you) feel like (you) know?”

We don’t know. None of us really do. Professional athletes are criticized everyday, whether it’s for dropping a pass, being late for practice or driving drunk at five in the morning. But behind all of that, are people who have sacrificed their lives to entertain the 70,000 people who come to see them play everyday.

Shouldn’t Colts president Bill Polian know a little something about getting hurt?

It was his 1999 Colts team that lost All-Decade linebacker Cornelius Bennett (and current president of retired NFL players) to a knee injury in the last week of the season, when the Colts already had the division title wrapped up.

“It never has left my mind,” Polian said, reflecting on the Colts opening round loss to Tennessee.  “That is the price you pay for playing players in meaningless games.”

From 2000 onward, the Indianapolis president has instituted a policy to rest starters as soon as the division/playoffs are in-hand.

I hope Polian is just acting as the outspoken, political man he is. He has built three different franchises into Super Bowl contenders (Buffalo, Carolina, Indianapolis). But his big mouth may just be giving us the hard truth – an 18-game schedule is inevitable.

NFL coaches currently have a proper amount of time, one month, of training camp to evaluate and assess their needs as a team. With rookie camp earlier in the summer, maybe it is possible the NFL could even eliminate a preseason game, keeping player’s health in check, while also giving drafted and undrafted free agents a chance to prove themselves.

Their off-season workouts could take a big hit, or perhaps worse, stretch to bigger portions of the year, causing disconnect from family and friends, among other things of significance.

32 years ago, the NFL went from six preseason games to four, bumping the regular season total from fourteen to sixteen. Is it any surprise this came in the heart of Webster’s career with the Steelers?

As head of the retired NFL players, Bennett hopes there will be “proper funding” for the health and safety for those out of the league, and not just forgotten like some washed-up pro wrestler, as has been the case for many veterans.

There are now 32 teams in the NFL, half of which can barely field a quality starting quarterback to win them a game every week. More games mean more opportunities to keep someone like Matthew Stafford on the sideline and in the hospital.

Fait accompli.