The NFL is a star-driven league. In the NBA and MLB more players are recognizable because their faces aren’t hidden behind helmets during games. In the NFL, only top-tier stars are recognized out of uniform.
There are a handful of NFL players fans tune in to watch for their celebrity or their athletic prowess. This season, a large number of elite players have been put on the shelf due to injury. This can have a negative effect on the NFL, which relies on these superstars to attract viewers and advertising dollars.
— Fanatics View (@fanaticsview) October 9, 2017
“I think a lot of young football viewers, millennials, for instance, watch football primarily for specific players. Whether it be their favorite player or the running back they picked up in their fantasy league,” said Ian Scott, college student, and 18 year NFL fan. “I think the amount of stars that are or have been hurt this year may have a negative impact on the sport, but overall I believe football will be fine and remain atop the pantheon of American sports.”
Many fantasy football owners felt the brunt of this issue when David Johnson, running back for the Arizona Cardinals, went down with a broken wrist, Week 1 against the Detroit Lions. Johnson was the first overall draft pick in the majority of fantasy football leagues. Many of his fantasy football owners are displeased to say the least, that he cannot help their team this season.
Fantasy football is just that: fantasy. NFL players are suffering through real-life injuries that can hurt their future chances to earn money in the league. These injuries also hinder the NFL viewer’s experience by taking the best talent off the field.
A list of NFL stars that can be seen on the sidelines in street clothes due to injury includes:
WR Odell Beckham Jr. – New York Giants (Ankle)
DE J.J. Watt – Houston Texans (Lower Leg)
QB Andrew Luck – Indianapolis Colts (Shoulder)
QB Ryan Tannehill – Miami Dolphins (Knee)
WR Brandon Marshall – New York Giants (Ankle)
RB Dalvin Cook – Minnesota Vikings (ACL)
RB Darren Sproles – Philadelphia Eagles (Arm/ACL)
S Eric Berry – Kansas City Chiefs (Achilles)
WR Julien Edelman – New England Patriots (ACL)
G Marshall Yanda – Baltimore Ravens (Ankle)
These are just a few names that won’t see action on an NFL field until the 2018 season. For some, including Sproles his injuries may be career-ending.
This is a testament to how physically demanding the game of football is. Injuries are commonplace, and year after year fans see players carted off the field in hopes they return with the same abilities they had when they left. However, that isn’t always the case.
One of the NFL’s most athletic tight ends during his NFL tenure, Jermichael Finely, was carted off the field on October 20th, 2013 after receiving a gruesome hit. Finely was diagnosed with a concussion and a bruised spinal cord. He was forced into an early retirement at the age of 26.
The Chiefs’ star running back, Priest Holmes, who accumulated over 11,000 yards and 80 touchdowns during his career, also was forced to call it quits due to a spinal cord injury.
The loss of superstars may cause some fans to look elsewhere for entertainment on Sundays but most will stay put and enjoy the games. However, the injuries sustained in the NFL should lead fans and spectators to respect these contemporary gladiators for putting their bodies on the line for our enjoyment.