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Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee: Is the NFL Any Good Any More? November 13, 2007

Posted by chuckwh in Chicago Bears, Chicago Sports, Rex Grossman, sports, sports injuries.
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I am a Bears fan. So you’d expect that I’d be glad to see Adrian Peterson go down with a torn lateral collateral ligament. In fact, after the way the rookie ripped through the Bears’ defensive line a few weeks ago, I should have doffed my cap at Al Harris for planting himself into Peterson’s knee.

But I’m not happy. Not at all. I love football, and I love NFL-style football the most. It’s just amazing to watch people play at that level. And when someone special comes along, I want to see him play for a long time. After all, it’s hard for a guy like me not to appreciate a player achieving pro status. My most memorable high school football moment is a game when I felt all giddy after some guy leveled me, and then reached out his hand out to my unconscious, dazed self to help me get up. So it’s hard not to appreciate when players just, simply, become pro players.

George HalasAnd when they make their peers look like giraffes dancing at a DanceJam, well, that takes watching them to a new level.

I don’t like it being taken away.

My first thought was that Harris launched himself like a rocket and aimed at Peterson’s knee, but the replay showed a different scenario. Harris simply dove down (in a way that would throw my back out for weeks) and Peterson’s knees ran into him. In other words, a clean play.

Good football players get taken out all the time by clean plays like this. I don’t recall how Chicago’s favorite QB, Rex Grossman, got hurt early in his career, but I assume it was through a clean hit.

I found that frustrating, too. Here was my team, the Bears, with potentially their first really great quarterback in a very long time, and he’s taken out of the action so early in the season that I don’t even have time for my first bowl of popcorn. Of course, as it turns out, Rex is not a great quarterback but I had no way of knowing that when he got hurt.

That injury ruined the season for me as a Bears fan.

This year, the Bears, again, have been hit hard by injuries. I guess it’s fair to say all teams do (except the Patriots, for some reason). The Colts lost this year’s Super Bowl against the Pats not in small part to the fact that Marvin Harrison was out. In fact, significant injuries are taking down so many players that even the online injury charts are having a hard time keeping track of them.

If you have any question about the effect of injuries on team play, just have a gander at this site: http://www.sportsline.com/nfl/injuries.

Pay special attention to the IRs (Injured Reserve, which means they’re out for the season). That’s a lot of people gone for the season.

The problem with this whole situation is that there are no real bad guys. The speed of the game has increased significantly since the days of George Halas. Now, the game is more like Rollerball.

Rollerball!

Imagine trying to run around a field while random projectiles the size of large couches are being fired at your knees the entire time, and you can start imagining the life of a pro football player. Imagine that those couches weigh between 230 and 340 pounds.

Remember when William Perry was a freak of nature? A 300+ pound lineman with vault? Today, you can’t find an NFL offensive line with an average weight under 300 pounds.

I don’t know what the answer is. Change the game? How? Mike Ditka, the former Bears coach, has been on an offensive geared towards helping retired players with debilitating injuries find help, but that doesn’t help me. I just want to be able to watch the next great football star without wondering when he’ll get destroyed.

A Tom Brady fan, or a Peyton Manning fan, or Brett Favre fan will tell you that the greats escape injury. I think, with quarterbacks, I do agree with that. Even though I’m a Bears fan, I love Favre, because he’s a football player first, and a quarterback second, even though he is about to eclipse Dan Marino’s all time yardage record. No real Bears fan will tell you they hate Favre. They might, if you get them drunk enough, tell you they wish he had been a Bear. But they will never, ever trash a guy like that.

But QBs have always been targets, and those that survive have always earned their accolades.

What’s happening today is different. So many of the really good players, at all positions, are getting hurt that it’s not so much fun to watch the NFL anymore.

How long do you think it will take, for example, for Devin Hester to get his injury? If I was a Vegas bookie, I’d create odds for it. If he’s around three years from now, it will be a complete shock to me.

I find myself turning away from football because as soon as I get excited about a guy, even if he’s on another team, he gets hurt. Maybe I’m getting old, but I’m not into blood sport. And that’s what the NFL is turning into.

Image credits: Rollerball: http://www.cinemablend.com/reviews/Rollerball-209.html

George Halas: http://www.nndb.com/people/032/000115684/

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