This week’s issue of Sports Illustrated features a cover story on the biggest breakout star of the NFL season: the injuries. The accompanying artwork is somewhat arresting even though we’ve long discussed the spate of season-ending hits teams across the league have suffered. Aaron Rodgers, Odell Beckham, David Johnson, Julian Edelman, J.J. Watt, and Richard Sherman are just a sampling of the big names affected.
The image captures one of the biggest non-existential problems the NFL is facing. Concussions, CTE, and the uncertain future of the game are big-picture issues that aren’t going away anytime soon. But having so many marquee players sidelined for significant time only adds to what feels like a mostly negative ecosystem permeating the NFL and its fans.
One does not have to be a pessimist or hater to realize that most of the major stories on a weekly basis aren’t celebratory. There’s the injuries, the illegal hits, the lackluster quarterback play, the Roger Goodell contract, the anthem protests, and power struggle among the owners and executive branch.
Having said that, there is some light at the end of the tunnel. The playoff chase and actual playoffs can cure all that ails — especially if the quarterbacking duels are more compelling than say, Brock Osweiler vs. Connor Cook.