NFL training camps are underway! All 32 teams are now on the field and practicing, and everybody's tied for first place. It's glorious, like the first day of summer and Christmas morning all wrapped up in one.
But with the arrival of training camp comes my most-hated line-item on the sports news calendar: the grim litany of catastrophic camp injuries. They're the equivalent of running down the stairs on Christmas morning only to trip, knock out three teeth and go to the hospital without ever seeing your presents. Injuries are a part of football; as fans, we tend to engage in a little cognitive dissonance by not paying close attention to the human cost of the game. But there's something extra cruel about a season-ending injury suffered before the season even begins.
Already in this still-new preseason, we've seen the Giants' Corey Coleman, the Falcons' Michael Bennett (not the ex-Seahawk/current Patriot), the Buccaneers' Orion Stewart, the Ravens' Robert Griffin III, and the Bengals' A.J. Green go down with injuries that could cost them weeks, months, even a full year. And, tough as it is to admit, there are more to come. Many more.
Surely some of the injuries come from players reporting to camp unaccustomed to the physical demands of football. Some come from over-eager opponents. Some are just plain bad luck. All are the result of football itself, and every one is a testament to why an 18-game season would ravage entire rosters.
A view from the inside
From a purely mercenary "how does this affect my team/my fantasy draft" standpoint, Green's injury has the most league-wide impact. But take it from one player who's been there: that's the wrong way to look at this pain.
Yahoo Sports' own Tank Williams, a former NFL player who suffered two separate season-ending preseason injuries, offered up some inside perspective on Twitter Monday. "There aren’t many feelings worse for an athlete than working your ass off, only to have your season derailed by an injury during training camp," he wrote.
"The road to recovery can be a lonely, dark place. All of the focus is typically on how the injury impacts teams but remember to show a little compassion for the wounded because they’re more than athletes. They’re people who are mourning the loss of something they love, something they’ve worked so hard to accomplish & something they may never have the opportunity to pursue again."
Football remains a hell of a sport, but it's not one without a cost. Enjoy the start of the NFL season ... and spare a thought for those who'll be bandaged up on the sidelines when it starts.
Is the answer 15? 154? 1,545? This is a mess
Florida State's social media team takes an L and it's not even preseason yet. How many days IS it till football begins, exactly?