Last night another NFL star fell victim to a meaningless preseason game.
Greenbay wide out Jordy Nelson is believed to have torn his ACL against the Steelers last night when he landed awkwardly following a catch. If the MRI comes back positive for a tear, Nelson is expected to miss the entire season.
Nelson led the Packers offense last season, and his 1,519 reception yards and 13 touchdowns were both franchise records. Nelson’s injury is a critical one for the Packers, but he is just one of many when it comes to these kind of injuries in the preseason. Two time pro-bowler Julius Thomas, in his first game with the Jacksonville Jaguars, suffered a fracture in his left hand. Minnesota Vikings starting offensive tackle Phil Loadholt tore his Achilles in a game against the Buccaneers. In the same game Nelson played in, starting center for the Steelers, Maurkice Pouncey, and Stephon Tuitt suffered ankle injuries.
It’s a fact that in football games there is a high risk of injuries. Last year, the league saw more than 1,300 injuries to its players. So why even play the meaningless games in the preseason if it will affect the overall product of the regular season? Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers addressed his opinion with the media following last night’s game. He, as well as others, believe that the preseason at the very least be shortened, but the fact remains that professional sports revolve around money. When there are more televised games, that equals more money.
The NFL is at an all-time high for television ratings and popularity. Networks have battled to pay the NFL top dollar for television rights. According to Pro Football Talk the NFL’s first preseason game, called the Hall of Fame Game, received a 6.9 Nielsen rating. To put that in perspective it beat out this past year’s NHL’s Stanley Cup Finale, game one in both the NBA’s Western and Eastern conference finals, the Indy 500, and game one match ups in both the American League and the National league Championship Series. Several stars did not even play a down, while most starters were pulled after just one drive, yet the Hall of Fame game exemplifies how much Americans love football.
The players union has to take a larger stance to shorten the preseason, if they ever want to have change. Several players have spoken out, but it will take much more than a few quotes in a newspaper for anything to happen. From a money standpoint there is no reason for the NFL to ever think about shortening the season and in reality they don’t need those few injured players to sell their product. A Packers fan will watch the Packers game whether Jordy Nelson is playing or not. So everything depends on the players, and maybe the union doesn’t have enough power right now to do something about it. Usually when that is the case major moves are required by the union, and that is when holdouts are created. Who knows what is on the horizon, but it seems like players have lost any control they’ve had. Guaranteed contracts have been harder and harder to come by as general managers see the rising epidemic of injuries spread throughout their rosters. Yes, it’s time to shorten the preseason, but it’s up to the players union to do anything about it.