The culture of the NFL opens the league to a wide variety of opposite forces. Players want to be viewed as warriors. The league uses slow motion highlights to paint them that way. Companies like Nike and Under Armour do everything they can to paint them that way too. Ronnie Lott’s legend couldn’t be bigger because he chose amputation of his finger in order to keep playing. Has it gone too far now?
Yesterday Jay Cutler left a playoff game with an apparent knee injury and the questions started flying about whether he was tough or not. During the late game yesterday, I got caught up in it and cracked about LaDainian Tomlinson actually playing in the Jets game after standing on the sideline injured as a member of the San Diego Chargers.
Last week when I wrote about paying Peyton Hillis, some commenters came out of the woodwork to point out that Josh Cribbs got a new deal and then his production fell off this year. Cribbs battled injuries all season long including the dislocation of four toes at one point. That warrior mentality kept him on the field trying to produce and kept him from talking about his injuries at all this season. Josh Cribbs never made a single excuse throughout the season and even seemed apologetic for being a part of the team that cost Mangini his job this year. The thanks he gets is a bunch of fans lamenting the re-working of his contract that gave him some more money for his extraordinary efforts.
I am not here to chide anyone for this either. I am a fan just like the rest of you, and sometimes I get caught up looking for punchlines. I saw a great many punchlines related to Brodney Pool and his propensity for head injuries yesterday on Twitter. Sometimes I laugh at stuff like that. Today, I am thinking about it more after seeing Cutler’s injury get questioned yesterday.
It is an inconsistent landscape to say the least. Nobody was making jokes about Mohamed Massaquoi and Josh Cribbs getting knocked out by James Harrison earlier this year. For the Browns fans, that was a stark contrast from what our feelings were a few weeks earlier when T.J. Ward met Jordan Shipley in the endzone.
And further yet, after a season has passed and with a new jersey, Brodney Pool’s struggles with concussions are ripe for punchlines?
The world is changing around us. It isn’t good or bad. Just different. I try to raise the discourse around sports talk because I don’t want it to devolve into the horrendous thing that politics have become. I will now be thinking harder about the NFL and injuries as a part of that, I guess.