NFL struck with injuries

Calvin Darnell, Staff Writer

The COVID-stricken 2020 NFL season has already been one to remember. Multiple NFL records have already been broken through three weeks, and countless star players have been injured. So many players have been injured, that the NFL has in fact changed the rules about how injuries are handled. 

In a normal year, a player who goes on Injured Reserve (a list that teams put their injured players on in order to sign another player) cannot return until he has missed at least six games. However, in the 2020 NFL season, the new rules state that a player can return from Injured Reserve after three weeks. This has made many teams put their players on Injured Reserve for less serious injuries. Therefore, there are not only more players injured this year than the last two years, but more players are on IR. 

All of this is devastating as many franchises were already missing players due to the fact that they were allowed to forgo the 2020 season due to COVID. In fact, there has already been one player added to the NFL’s COVID Reserve list. A.J. Terrell, the Falcons’ first round selection this year, is the first NFL player to have a positive COVID test. 

The Denver Broncos are the leaders in injured players. The team, through three weeks, have already had eleven players on IR. This includes five starters who all have never had a season-ending injury. The league leader in players on IR last season for all sixteen weeks was the New York Jets. The Jets had eighteen total players on IR last year, but that was in sixteen weeks. If the Broncos continue to have this amount of injuries, they will have roughly 59 players on IR. An NFL team only has 53 total players; therefore, they cannot sustain this amount of injuries. 

The most common injuries are non-contact soft tissue injuries. Many players, especially lineman and running backs, have had ACL and ankle injuries. Star players such as Von Miller, Saquon Barkley, and Nick Bosa have all torn soft tissue and look to be out for the season. All three players have never missed a season due to injury. In fact, all three players have been known to be some of the toughest and most durable players in the NFL. This brings up the question of why these players are getting hurt. 

The NFL generally has months of working out and mini-camps leading up to training camp for an NFL season. However, due to restrictions from COVID, they were only allowed a training camp with nothing leading up to it. As well their training camps were shorter than normal NFL training camps. Many have speculated that the 168 players on IR has a lot to do with the lack of training. Without time to stretch and workout soft tissue against real competition, the tissue will become a lot less durable than it normally would be. 

The NFL has had at least one if not multiple star players exit games due to very serious injuries every week so far. With loss of funds due to not having fans in most stadiums, and the added cost of COVID testing, the NFL cannot sustain losing all of its star players. As well, it is putting a lot of very good teams’ seasons at jeopardy. The biggest worry for many is all of the players’ future safety. A lot of players are never the same after coming back from a huge injury. It will be interesting to see how teams bounce back from these injuries and what the NFL plans to do about the sheer amount of injuries.