Injuries were at an all time high in the 2020 NFL season, yet club owners still decided to add a 17th game to the regular season.
The NFL’s injury rate has been steadily increasing, going up 14% over the last decade. So when the NFL and club owners decided to add another game, many players voiced their displeasure.
The most common NFL injuries are concussions. Last season, there were 142 concussions in only 129 games. But the total number of injuries is much higher.
There are roughly 1.73 injuries per 100 plays, with around 45,000 plays run throughout an entire season. Last season saw 801 officially tallied injuries. The actual number of injuries is presumably higher as many injured players continue playing without reporting.
Critics of the decision to add another game, point out that the injury number is likely to rise as a result of the extended regular season.
The NFL adding a game was tied to a new media deal totally more than $100 billion–almost double the amount of the previous contract. “One of the benefits of each team playing 17 regular-season games is the ability for us to continue to grow our game around the world,” said NFL commissioner Roger Goodell.
Goodell also addressed the issue of injury rates. He says that since they are higher during preseason games, by getting rid of a preseason game and turning it into a regular season game, the total number of injuries could be lower.
Although there are more injuries per player in pre-season, most of those injuries are from players that are trying to make the squad, so there are a lot more players at those games. Adding a regular season game is likely to increase the number of injuries for the actual starters.
Several players have voiced their opinion on the NFL adding a game to the regular season.
Emmanuel Sanders, a wide receiver currently playing for the Buffalo Bills has had some experience with a 17-game season. It happened in 2019, when he was traded from the Denver Broncos to the San Francisco 49ers mid-season. The trade happened before Denver’s bye week and after San Francisco’s bye week. Due to the timing of the trade, he played one more game than anyone else.
“It was definitely tough,” he stated. “If the NFL wants to change the season to 17 games they should ask me, and I say no, because my body was hurting and I needed that break. Certain things were just aching. My ankles were sore. My big toe was sore, just everything,” he said.
Richard Sherman, a cornerback who is currently playing for the San Francisco 49ers, was also unimpressed with the decision. “I don’t think it’s something that players are interested in, honestly,” he said. “And if that’s the point they’re negotiating on. I think these negotiations are going to go on a lot longer than anticipated, because it’s odd to me and it’s always odd when you hear player safety is their biggest concern.”
Sherman feels the league is prioritizing profit at the expense of safety. “Player safety, up to the point of, ‘Hey, 17 games makes us this much money, so we really don’t care how safe they are, if you’re gonna pay us this much money to play another game,” Sherman said.
“It seems like player safety has a price tag.”
Cover Image: Viola Tran