1. Players in the NFL are susceptible to serious injury every time they hit the field. Is there anything scarier to a football fan at the end of July/beginning of August than hearing a sports news show tease a spat of season-ending injuries before a break? It could be anyone. The Eagles lost Jeremy Maclin. The Ravens lost Dennis Pitta. The Broncos lost yet another starting center. Much to our chagrin, the Washington Redskins have not avoided this horrible summer tradition. Keenan Robinson, the speedy inside linebacker that many were hoping would grow into a meaningful contributor in 2013 on his way to taking over for London Fletcher, is now lost with a pectoral tear. As bad as it is to lose a guy in the season, seeing a player fail to make it to September is a huge kick in the teeth.
2. In the era of insane contracts and larger-than-life images, season-ending injuries in the summer months are shattering to players and fans alike. I don't want to suggest that the experience for the players that have to suffer and endure these injuries is easier than it is for the fans who wear their jerseys or the fantasy owners who depend on them to carry their fake teams. Ripping your ACL, tearing a major muscle or absorbing one too many concussions has to feel absolutely terrible, and certainly worse than anything we as fans go through when we hear the news. In many cases, the injury ends a man's dream. As fast as a bone can break, a life can change paths from the NFL's fast lane to a life outside of football.
3. That said...our pain is real. Given the statistical likelihood that guys are going to get hurt for significant periods of time, it is kind of shocking how tough we take it when our guys actually do go down. We spend the entire offseason imagining what our team will look like in the fall. As soon as that picture is altered in the slightest way, we break down. As sick as it sounds, we feel robbed...as if it is our right to be able to watch our own guys escape all health-related issues even as dudes from other teams drop like flies. Further, the apathy we mostly feel for injured players from other teams is also rather shocking. I can't stand seeing people act euphoric when a player from a rival gets carted off the field. That's what Philly does, y'all. Not us. (A brief text message to the guy you traded Percy Harvin to this offseason is warranted though.)
4. It would be insincere to suggest that we are as heartbroken for every player if and when an injury occurs. Part of what makes this sport and its fans a bit sick is the way we all breathe a sigh of relief when we find out the player in question is a backup player, or role player. As bad as it is to see a young and promising player like Keenan Robinson lose a season early in his career, just about everybody reading this would feel a lot different if the injury was to...you-know-who.
5. To wrap up my injury thoughts this morning, I would say that there is no good time for your team and its players to experience a season-ending event. Draft picks have been expended. Salary cap space has been allocated. Whether it is before the season starts or at any time during the season, losing a player brings a unique brand of soul-crushing sorrow inside the locker room and within a fanbase. From our vantage point today, it makes sense to suggest that an injury suffered in July gives us the best chance to overcome the loss. We can get a guy in camp and/or coach the next man up. As opposed to a season-ending injury in December when losing a key guy might actually eliminate your team's chances of winning any more games, going through it in August offers a coaching staff, front office and locker room the chance to adapt and build. Either way, the Robinson injury makes the loss of Lorenzo Alexander that much more painful.
6. There are more ways to lose a player for significant stretches in 2013 as it turns out. Jarvis Jenkins will sit out for four games at the beginning of the year after testing positive for a banned substance. This means that after the bye week, the Redskins will return both Rob Jackson and Jenkins to a defensive unit that will likely need them. I am not trying to blow sunshine up your five-hole here, because these suspensions are as much about the players' ignorance as they are about rules infractions, but an injection of fresh, healthy blood in Week 6 could be VERY helpful. It remains to be seen how Shanahan and Haslett will work these guys back into the fold, but getting two front-line players back into the fold at this point of the season could hold an advantage or two. This of course assumes that their absence during the first month of the season doesn't cost us in the Win/Loss column. We shall see. In the meantime, let's hope that the rest of our team avoids products designed to help breast cancer patients. (I could spend an entire Sixpack on how ridiculous it is for players to put things in their bodies that are missing the NFL's stamp of approval. The mere fact they would knowingly ingest such substances rightfully draws suspicion in and of itself. Let's not kid ourselves either...given the NFL tells players exactly which products are approved and which are not, there is no longer any viable "oops" excuse when you fail a test.)