Tag Archives: NFL

Hinchcliffe Wreck Shows Risk of Injuries are Part of Everyday Life for Athletes

Every day life is full of risks if one really stops to think about it.

There is the risk of stubbing one’s toe while fumbling in the dark all the way to the risk that someone will run into the back of your car while you are stopped at a light.

For professional athletes there are the every day toe stubbing risks that the average person faces along with the risk that in some cases they might be seriously injured or even die at work due to the inherent risks associated with what they do for a living.

James Hinchcliffe (shown in Winner's Circle after the 2013 Grand Prix of Houston) recently reminded people that driving Indy Cars is risky business. Photo R. Anderson

James Hinchcliffe (shown in Winner’s Circle during the 2013 Grand Prix of Houston) recently reminded people that driving Indy Cars is risky business.
Photo R. Anderson

Of course, police officers, firefighters, and members of the military are among the many professions who also put their life’s at risk so in no way do I want to come across as saying that athletes are the only ones with risky professions.

There are countless men and women working tirelessly at dangerous jobs every day who deserve our thanks for keeping us protected.

Usually their jobs do not have them in arenas full of screaming fans while they perform the risky work though. In that way professional athletes really are in a league of their own when it comes to performing risky behavior in front of the masses.

One of those athletes who does risky work in front of the masses, Indy Car driver James Hinchcliffe, is in the Intensive Care Unit of an Indiana hospital following a violent crash during practice for the Indianapolis 500 Monday.

Hinchcliffe, or Hinch as he is known to many of his fans, suffered a puncture to the left upper thigh after a piece of the car’s suspension assembly pierced the driver cockpit, or tub, and went through his leg causing severe soft tissue damage and rupturing arteries.

According to some published reports after his car’s right front suspension failed, Hinchcliffe hit the wall with a force of 125 Gs and was likely traveling more than 220 mph when he hit the wall. It should be noted that G forces above 100, even in short bursts, can be fatal in some cases.

Unlike in other sports the same safety team travels to all Indy Car races. It is the quick work of that team that is being credited with saving the life of James Hinchcliffe following a wreck Monday. Photo R. Anderson

Unlike in other sports the same safety team travels to all Indy Car races. It is the quick work of that team that is being credited with saving the life of James Hinchcliffe following a wreck Monday.
Photo R. Anderson

Were it not for the fast action of the safety crew it is entirely possible that Hinch could have died from his injuries due to the blood loss associated with a ruptured artery.

While Hinch is alive thanks in part to enhanced safety features and procedures to handle injuries like his, it is likely that there will be new safety features added to the Indy Cars after the cause of the latest crash are revealed.

However Indy Cars will never be 100 percent safe any more than athletes in other sports can be 100 percent protected from the risks of getting seriously injured in their chosen fields.

Recent lawsuits from former NFL players show that injuries from playing sports can sometimes take years to manifest themselves as is the case with players stating that they are suffering from the effects of head trauma long after their playing careers have ended.

In response the NFL has new concussion protocols in place to try to lessen the risk of injury to current players from head trauma.

In baseball there has been a rash of injuries the last few years with batters and pitchers getting injured after having their heads and jaws make contact with a baseball traveling at high velocity.

Former Houston Astros pitcher J.A. Happ was lucky and evaded serious injury in 2013 when he was hit by  a ball on the mound while pitching for the Toronto Blue Jays. Happ's hit and others like it have led Major League Baseball to look at ways to better protect the players. Photo R Anderson

Former Houston Astros pitcher J.A. Happ was lucky and evaded serious injury in 2013 when he was hit by a ball on the mound while pitching for the Toronto Blue Jays. Happ’s hit and others like it have led Major League Baseball to look at ways to better protect the players.
Photo R Anderson

In response to the increase in head injuries Major League Baseball is developing new protective head gear that can be worn by both batters and pitchers to help lessen the impact of a ball to the head.

The actions by the NFL and MLB to protect their players is certainly to be commended but no system can totally prevent injury when it comes to sports.

This is not to say that all motorsports and contact sports such as football should be deemed unsafe and banned any more than I should have to bubble wrap my home to avoid injury from bumping into things in the dark.

The trick is to make things as safe as humanly possible for the athletes involved so that they can live to play, or in Hinchcliffe’s case, drive, another day.

Sports are much safer today than they were 10 years ago and 10 years from now they will be even safer. Innovations will continue to evolve in the world of sports as well as other fields.

As long as people learn and improve from each accident and injury than they serve a purpose in helping the industry as a whole become safer. Failure to learn from the issues would be a far more devastating scenario.

In time the Mayor of Hinch Town will again be spraying the bubbly of victory after he heals from his injuries. Photo R. Anderson

In time the Mayor of Hinch Town will again be spraying the bubbly of victory after he heals from his injuries.
Photo R. Anderson

I had the opportunity to meet Hinch when I worked with the Grand Prix of Houston. While platitudes are certainly thrown around a lot, I can say that James Hinchcliffe is one of the most easy going athletes I have encountered in any sport and is one of those athletes who seems to really enjoy what they are doing and understands that it is a privilege to get to do what they do for a living.

The road back to driving an Indy Car will not be an easy one but Hinch has shown time and time again that he has an ability to handle those turns with the greatest of ease. I would not count the Mayor of Hinch Town out just yet.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to move a few things so that I do not bump into them tonight.

Copyright 2015 R Anderson

 

With Football Done, I’m Ready for Some Baseball

The National Football League season came to a conclusion Sunday with the playing of the Super Bowl where the Seattle Seahawks lost to the New England Patriots, who depending on one’s opinion, are either led by the greatest duo to ever exist on the gridiron in Bill Belichick and Tom Brady, or are led be the evil emperor and Darth Vader who commute to their games in a death star and treat the NFL rule book like a collection of suggestions.

There were of course allegations that the Patriots cheated their way into the big game by having their balls a tad bit softer then the rules allowed but the fact remains for the next year, like it or not, they get to call themselves World Champions.

Regarding those soft balls used during the first half of the AFC Championship game, the NFL’s investigation into just who let the air out is still underway. While the tin foil hat society can continue debating whether there was one lone deflator or a grassy knoll full of deflators, in the bigger picture the end of football season means that the arrival of the baseball season is that much closer.

Don’t get me wrong I enjoy football, but after six months of Omaha, hut, hut, I am beyond ready for the sights and sounds of the National Pastime to arrive.

I think if the powers that be of the NFL were honest with themselves, they would also admit that they are ready for another sport to take the spotlight for a while so that the league can recover from a season where players were often making headlines more for their off field activities than anything they did on the field.

That is not to say that baseball players do not have off field problems as well. In fact Major League Baseball is preparing for the return of Alex Rodriguez after a one and a half season suspension for getting caught putting things in his body that are not allowed.

While MLB prepares for the headaches of A Rod drama few can argue that the past season was one of the biggest public relations headaches for the NFL in its history.

Hopefully the NFL can use the offseason to better define policies and procedures to provide clear cut, consistent responses across the board when issues arise instead of the shoot from the hip inconsistent approach that took center stage this year.

Speaking of inconsistent approaches, the advertisements in this year’s Super Bowl were all over the map with very few hitting the mark of viral success for making viewers laugh or cry for the right reasons.

It is almost like all of the other ad agencies decided that the beer company that is famous for spots featuring horses and golden retrievers was going to win the hearts of viewers regardless of what they did so they just phoned it in when it came to their ads.

Another item hurting companies when it comes to Super Bowl success is the early release of their ads on the internet.

While one used to have to wait until Super Bowl Sunday to see the ads at great peril to their bladders, now many ads are released days and weeks before the big game meaning that any impact already occurs before the game.

While this approach may lead to fewer full bladders during the commercial breaks, it does take a little out of the Super Bowl experience and has changed the way the game is watched for many.

The commercials I enjoyed the most were the ones I did not have prior knowledge of. There is just something about seeing a Super Bowl commercial for the first time during the Super Bowl as opposed to seeing an ad that has already been trending for a week before the game.

Hopefully marketers will realize that the best ads are the ones that are a surprise to the viewer and the trend of premature commercial release will be reversed faster than a bad call by a referee.

Ad agencies are now on the clock and have a whole year to figure out their ads for the next big game. And with Super Bowl 50 coming next February, I am hoping for some truly epic commercials, as well as a game featuring some good teams with properly inflated balls and no Death Stars parked in the employee lot.

Whoever gets selected as the halftime performer also has a tough act to follow as by all accounts Katy Perry and her dancing sharks and roaring cat set the bar very high for all who come after her.

And while a pitcher shaking off a sign from his catcher does not provide the same sound bites as a quarterback calling an audible at the line, who knows, maybe one of the umpires will add “Omaha, you’re out” to his strike out call to help those fans who are going through football withdrawal until the start of organized team activities and spring games in a couple of months.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have a baseball season to get ready for.

Copyright 2015 R. Anderson

Violent Protests Have No Place in Sports or in Life

The other day protests turned to riots in Missouri following the release of a grand jury decision.

While I am certainly glad to live in a society where one is free to peacefully protest through civil disobedience when they disagree on an issue, I have never understood why some protests turn against their own community.

For much of Monday night images on television showed burning police cars and buildings as well as reports of gunfire and items being thrown at members of law enforcement and the media.

Surely this is not what is meant by peaceful civil disobedience.

It is likely that a small minority of protestors escalated things to the level of violence so any generalizations about the behavior of all of the protestors would be false. Sadly, the actions of the few far out shadow any peaceful message that the many may have been trying to share.

When the dust settles it is the images of the burning police cars and buildings that most people will remember more than any peaceful demonstration that may have occurred.

Of course protests and riots are not limited to issues pertaining to the courts and government. The world of sports is full of examples of times where fans riot in the streets following either a win or a loss.

Baseball and hockey fans have been known to take to the streets and tip over cars and start fires following championship wins or in some cases losses by their teams.

In the world of football, fans have been known to charge the field of play and tear down the goalposts as part of a celebration.

Of course when it comes to the biggest riots in sports that honor tends to fall to soccer teams where riots in the stands have turned violent and even caused deaths in some cases.

In each of these sports related riots innocent victims were affected and large costs to property were incurred.

While it is unlikely that the students of Rice University will ever tear down a goalpost. In October both of the goalposts at Ole Miss were torn down by fans celebrating a victory over Alabama. According to published reports, replacing both goalposts cost $11,000 each. Additionally the fan incursion onto the field drew a $50,000 fine from the Southeastern Conference on top of $3,000 for miscellaneous repairs that were also needed. The total cost of the fan riot was $75,000. Photo R. Anderson

While it is unlikely that the students of Rice University will ever tear down a goalpost. In October both of the goalposts at Ole Miss were torn down by fans celebrating a victory over Alabama. According to published reports, replacing both goalposts cost $11,000 each.
Photo R. Anderson

In October both of the goalposts at Ole Miss were torn down by fans celebrating a victory over Alabama. According to published reports, replacing both goalposts cost $11,000 each.

Additionally the fan incursion onto the field drew a $50,000 fine from the Southeastern Conference on top of $3,000 for miscellaneous repairs that were also needed. The total cost of the fan riot was $75,000.

Alumni of Ole Miss set up a collection site and raised over $85,000 to cover the repairs and new goalposts so the University did not have to pay for the conduct of the fans but the fact remains celebrating a win by tearing down goalposts should not be allowed, even if the Alumni are willing to pay for it.

Of course the cost of replacing two goalposts is nothing compared to the costs that have been incurred by the riots of Missouri. While goalposts can be replaced within a matter of days the damage of one violent night in Missouri will take months, if not years, to repair.

With at least a dozen businesses burned to the ground, and others falling victim to looting, there is a very real cost being felt by the owners of those businesses.

Unlike the big time colleges who have Alumni willing to write a check for a new goalpost without blinking, many small business owners have their entire life savings tied up in a business to the point that even the slightest disruption in sales can have devastating impacts.

Aside from the small business owners being affected by the actions of a select few trouble makers, employees of those burned businesses are also affected and could see their incomes disappear.

History is full of examples of riots such as the one in Missouri and there will likely be another event in the future that will lead to protests such as the ones taking place this week.

That is part of the freedom Americans have. We are given free speech and the ability to show are displeasure with things in a way that very few other countries have.

But there are limits to the protection of free speech. Just as it is illegal to yell “fire” in a crowded theater when there is no fire it is also illegal to burn buildings and other property as a form of protest.

The violence and destruction over the past few days takes away from those members of society who are trying to peacefully demonstrate and have their voices heard.

Regardless of whether one agrees with the protesters or not one should agree that they have the right to demonstrate within the boundaries of the law.

It is when those protests fall outside the boundaries of the law that action must be taken to ensure that innocent people are not harmed.

So the next time your team wins that huge upset victory, celebrate the win from your seat and leave the goalpost firmly planted in the ground.

Also, continue to protest for causes if you are so inclined, but keep the protest peaceful so that innocent victims are not impacted.

The current protests in Missouri will end at some point and the impacted businesses will either be rebuilt or will relocate.

But there will still be scars below the surface just as there are with any riot.

The key is to let the scars serve as a reminder that can be learned from so that the events are not repeated.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to get ready for a weekend of Thanksgiving football and food.

Copyright 2014 R. Anderson

Favre Says No to Comeback Offer from Rams, World Shocked

So far the NFL season has been one for the ages.

Whether it will be remembered as a good age or a bad age is still a matter of debate.

With a series of teams battling for the number one draft pick next season it seems that there is very little good to say about the play of a quarter of the teams in the league as the season nears the halfway point.

Currently 7 of the 32 teams in the NFL have won less than two games. Conversely only four teams have one loss or less showing a huge divide between the haves and the have nots.

Aside from being a season of poor play by a quarter of the league the 2013 NFL season has turned into a season of last quarterback standing with several teams already using their third or fourth quarterback of the year.

Some quarterbacks have been replaced by injury, while others have been replaced by poor play. One quarterback was even cut by one team for poor play and then injured the following week for an entirely different team.

With more openings for good quarterbacks than available good quarterbacks, teams have had to get creative with filling the vacancies.

Let me just say that with so many quarterback slots open I find it appalling that Tim Tebow is still unemployed with no team seeming to be willing to hire the former Heisman winner who happens to have more playoff victories for the Denver Broncos than Peyton Manning.

While no one has called to offer Tebow a job apparently a call was made to another, albeit slightly older, former Jets quarterback.

Brett Favre, shown here during an event for Snickers during Super Bowl XXXVIII made some people snicker when it was leaked that the St. Louis Rams were interested in the twice retired quarterback. For the record, Favre said no. Photo R. Anderson

Brett Favre, shown here during an event for Snickers during Super Bowl XXXVIII made some people snicker when it was leaked that the St. Louis Rams were interested in the twice retired quarterback. For the record, Favre said no.
Photo R. Anderson

I am of course talking about Brett Favre the man who seems to retire and unretire more times than Andy Pettitte.

If published reports are to be believed the St. Louis Rams reached out to Favre, who last played three seasons ago for the Minnesota Vikings, to see if he was interested in coming out of retirement once again to fill-in for Sam Bradford who is out for the year following a knee injury.

It should be noted that Favre’s former team the Minnesota Vikings could also use some help at quarterback after blowing through four quarterbacks of their own so far this season.

For the record, Favre shocked many people by saying that despite still being in shape to play football he was happy to stay retired in Mississippi where he serves as a volunteer head coach for a local high school.

While that could certainly be code for “offer me more money and I will play for you,” I tend to believe that Favre is finally done this time.

But the very fact that a 44-year-old “retiree” is considered better than any other option of free agent quarterback available speaks volumes for the state of quarterbacks in the NFL.

That also shows why with only one true franchise caliber quarterback projected for next year’s NFL draft the battle for the first overall pick is going to be intense.

Brett Favre, shown in plastic miniature form, last played in the NFL in 2010. The fact that a team wanted him to play again in 2013 shows just how bad the crop of quarterbacks is this season. Photo R. Anderson

Brett Favre, shown in plastic miniature form, last played in the NFL in 2010. The fact that a team wanted him to play again in 2013 shows just how bad the crop of quarterbacks is this season.
Photo R. Anderson

While I doubt that any team near the bottom of the standings right now would tank the rest of the season in order to get the number one pick there are certainly a number of teams who are in desperate need for a franchise quarterback.

And for those teams looking for a retiree in their 40’s to lead their offense there are options there as well. Although Brett Favre has said no to a return, former Four-time Pro Bowl quarterback Jeff Garcia, who has not thrown a pass in the NFL since 2008, has offered his assistance to several teams.

While I have never been involved in fantasy sports leagues I have got to think that the quarterback shuffle has been very hard for those fantasy team owners.

Of course the lack of strong quarterback play has been difficult for those real team owners as well.

With so many quarterbacks injured and so few options to replace them it will be interesting to see how the rest of the season plays out. And who knows Tim Tebow may yet get another chance to show what he can do.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I am off to throw the football around in case the depth charts get further depleted and teams start auditioning arm chair quarterbacks.

Copyright 2013 R. Anderson

Ready or Not, Football is Here

Last night was the official kickoff of the College Football season, and the final night of the NFL preseason.

No longer content to have all of their games air on Saturdays, the expanding television landscape for college football now gives fans games Thursday through Saturday.

The NFL gives viewers live game action on Sundays, Mondays, and Thursdays.

So for roughly the next five months there are only two days out of the week where live football games are not being broadcast somewhere.

And I am sure on those dark Tuesdays and Wednesdays there will be a replay of a game somewhere on the dial meaning that a fan could watch a football game every night of the week.

Steve Spurrier's South Carolina Gamecocks kicked off the College football season last night with a game against North Carolina proving that Thursday night college football is here to stay. Photo R. Anderson

Steve Spurrier’s South Carolina Gamecocks kicked off the College football season last night with a game against North Carolina proving that Thursday night College Football is here to stay.
Photo R. Anderson

Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy football but do I think that there needs to be five days a week of live games? Not really.

I think keeping the games Saturday through Monday would be a good mix but I know that I am most likely in the minority with that opinion.

While I know that there have been many weeks where I have watched a baseball game or two every night of the week that is different from wall to wall football.

For starters, while starting pitchers take four days off between starts the rest of the players on a baseball team can usually play night after night without the grind getting to them.

While football players would not play in a game on consecutive nights the staggering of game nights leads to scenarios where the time between games is not equal.

Whereas in the past players would have a full week to rest and take care of injuries between games, the new scheduling in college and professional football creates scenarios where a team could play games with 2-3 less days to recover.

While it is too soon to tell if this will lead to more injuries with players, it certainly stands to reason that players need as much time as possible between games to stay healthy due to the increased risk of injury in football compared to baseball.

And with college games now being played on “school nights” the NCAA is encouraging their athletes to stay out late which could impact their studies.

I almost typed that with a straight face. The NCAA has shown in recent years that the almighty dollar seems to take a front seat while student interests and ensuring academic accountability for football players seems to be lacking at times.

And one need only look at the situation with that sophomore quarterback in College Station, TX ole Johnny what’s his name to know that the NCAA is limited in its enforcement of rule violations.

Of course this conflict between class and football can be easily solved as one player for LSU accomplished by enrolling in a single online class for the fall semester thus ensuring that school work will in no way impede his football work.

In addition to competing with baseball on the airwaves for the next eight weeks or so, this is also the time of year when baseball will take a back seat on many of the sports pages and talk shows as the almighty pigskin season has arrived.

Right when baseball teams are ramping up their efforts for a run to the playoffs the gladiators of the gridiron have arrived to help ease the suffering fans have felt for the seven months without football.

I guess baseball fans are lucky in that we have seven months of season and only five months of off season to get through. I just wish that baseball coverage did not take a backseat each year as the season ramps up to the World Series.

Each year there will be those who say the baseball season is too long and they should hold the World Series in August to finish before football season starts. I have never agreed with that assessment.

Given the choice I would have baseball go year round since I enjoy watching the games and would certainly love a few extra months to head out to the Ballpark.

The potential for snow covered Ballparks is one of many things preventing year-round baseball. Thankfully football fills the five baseball free months of the year. Photo R. Anderson

The potential for snow covered Ballparks is one of many things preventing year-round baseball. Thankfully football fills the five baseball free months of the year.
Photo R. Anderson

Of course it is not realistic to have baseball go year round since even games in April and May have the chance to get snowed out.  I can only imagine the risk of snowed out games in open air stadiums in the north during December and January.

Plus, all of those Ballparks with pools and other water features in them would turn to ice.

Although having the umpire call time so a snow plow can clear the field might be fun to watch.

So, since the logistics just do not support year round baseball, I guess it is good that we have football to keep us occupied during those dark months between the end of the World Series and the time that players report to Florida and Arizona for Spring Training.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I am off to see how far back the box scores from last night got buried on the sports page to make room for the wall to wall football coverage.

Copyright 2013 R. Anderson