THE SPORTS DOCTOR- Two short weeks? NFL uber-season an injury-maker

We could see more of this...
Flickr/Monica's Dad

Two little weeks, a fortnight, as it were. If you've ever read any Dickens, Austen, Thackeray, Brontë, or other British novelists, you've no doubt overdosed on the word "fortnight." It's a great word, though, one I wish Benjamin Franklin and Noah Webster hadn't made their business to banish from the 13 colonies.

"Fortnight" implies so much more than does "two weeks"! When it comes to portending doom and gloom, the über-American "two weeks" doesn't hold a candle to the Queen's English.

While the NFL and the Players Association scramble to patch together a new collective bargaining agreement before the existing one expires in March, one sticking point keeps making the news: the proposed regular season expansion. As it stands now, an NFL regular season is 16 games, with four pre-season games thrown in for measure (the consensus is there's not much good about it). 

The NFL wants to change that, but the players not so much; the players are well aware that the NFL is talking about a fortnight, not two weeks.

Tack two extra weeks onto any exhausting, tense, and conflict-packed situation, and what do you get? If you're Ronnie and Sammi, you break up a few hundred times, bash some heads, and maybe get arrested, all while drinking daiquiris in a hot tub.

But if you're Pittsburgh Steelers safety Troy Palomalu and have already spent 16 weeks working your 5'10, 207-pound body like John Henry, two more weeks of football can turn into a doomy and gloomy fortnight right quick. 

Math is not my forte, but it doesn't take a whiz to figure out that adding two games to the NFL's regular season increases a player's probability of being injured by quite a margin. NFL statistics reveal that an average of three players per team are injured every game, so two more games means 190 more injured players each season (it took me a while to figure that out). There's no question the NFL must feel pretty secure to even suggest such a thing. And they do.

If ever a sports union was sitting in the catbird seat, it's the NFL. Football has been number-one Sunday night viewing for the entire season, and according to Forbes, viewer numbers for "The NFL on CBS" are the highest in 23 years. Evidently, that's not good enough. Blinded by the siren song of hard cash, the NFL is effectively slaughtering their goose for a fortnight's worth of golden eggs.

I want to take NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and every team owner by the shoulders and give then a good shake, "Are you crazy, man? Concussions are up 21 percent this season!" And those are just brains. 

Does anybody remember how great the Cincinnati Bengals were last year? They were a playoff team! This year they went 4-12. Perhaps the season-ending injuries sustained by three of their key players had something to do with it.

The closest I've ever come to playing professional football was being pummeled by my brother in the backyard, and that was pretty brutal. I've heard that playing professional football is like being hit by a car, and I have done that. The thought of being hit by a car for 16 weeks straight makes me sick; 18 weeks makes me want to cry.

Forget that garbage about dropping two preseason games and making camp easier. First-stringers don't play in preseason games anyway, and their training camp is not the same training camp the third-stringers know.

I love football, but like former NFL player Chris Collinsworth said, "I'd be less than honest if I said I didn't have my doubts as to whether my children should be playing." 

Despite new its new rules, the NFL promotes more hard hits and bone-crushing tackles than ever, short- and long-term effects be damned, especially when it comes to star players. Tight ends and running backs and tackles may have never read Thackeray or Austen, but they sure as heck know a fortnight when they see one.

And boy, oh boy, do they see one.


Juanita Giles lives on a farm in Charlotte County with her husband, son and many dogs.