Wednesday, June 4, 2014
Players suffer when injuries are secret
By Paul Kuharsky
Can opponents target your left knee or your right foot?
I suppose so, though injury secrecy in the NFL tends to be over the top.
If something is limiting a player in practice, then that player appears on the injury report, and if that player is on the injury report, it’s made public, no matter how non-specific the injury.
Teams generally want as little injury info out as possible. That often runs counter to the interest of the player.
Perhaps we would have gone easier on running back Chris Johnson as he averaged less than 4 yards per carry last season if we had known he was running on a torn meniscus. Perhaps we would have factored knee troubles in more to our evaluation of unproductive linebacker Akeem Ayers, who revealed this week he's had two knee surgeries since the season ended, not one.
The media and public perception of an injured guy doesn't trump all, of course, or ever factor into the formula much.
But the fact of the matter is a guy's reputation is, and should be, important to him and when he’s complicit in injury secret-keeping, he’s helping dent it.
Tennessee Titans guard Andy Levitre said during the course of last season that he wasn't playing up to his standard in part because he had a nagging injury. In time, we learned it was a hip problem. He didn't use it as an excuse. He just stated it as a fact.
His approach made the most sense to me.
But if you aren't convinced that's the right approach and don’t want to share anything about an injury, at least get it out there when the season is over.
I’m not making an excuse, I decided I could play through it and if I am out there I need to produce. But I’m going to be a lot better next year when my (name body part) is fixed with surgery and I have a better chance to be healthier.
It’s easy for the team to keep secrets because it's not the team’s reputation that suffers. It's not some weakness to admit something is up if it's truly impacting your performance. Believing it is part of a football culture that doesn't benefit the player.