Accident Waiting To Happen by Jeff Lyons
I'm not even an NFL player and I think training camp is too long. I'm not out there under the broiling sun, grappling and pushing against 350-pound linemen in ungodly humidity. And this year, your Philadelphia Eagles have four exhibition games scheduled. And every year, someone gets hurt in exhibition games.
I'm writing this column with my fingers crossed. I'm not doing this to say "I told you so" when a key player goes down with an injury. Look, I know injuries are a part of football. But why the need for so many exhibition games? Shouldn't three be enough? Can't the coaches and general managers get a good enough read on their players in practice? Don't they have an idea who can play and who can't?
The almighty dollar has a lot to do with the extended exhibition schedule, as well as the NFL's desire to expand its audience overseas. I get it. But what good is having an overseas product when your best players are subject to injuries in meaningless games? And Eagles season ticketholders are REQUIRED to purchase the tickets as part of their package. The seats cost the same as regular season games. The same price? For an exhibition game? Come on.
The 49ers have already lost running back Frank Gore to a broken hand. Anthony McFarland is likely gone for the year for the Colts. Eric Parker of the Chargers could miss two months with a broken toe. And the games haven't even started yet. Look for more guys to get sidelined once the exhibitions begin.
If the NFL were to start training camp just a week later, and start the season a week earlier, a number of issues could be addressed. What better time to start a new season than on a holiday weekend? Celebrate Labor Day by watching the Birds!
And the NFL can add an extra bye week to the schedule, giving each team two weeks off during the year. They have no problem with having a week off between the conference championship games and the Super Bowl. It'll give the banged-up players a chance to recover and actually take the field.
I know the purists out there may scoff at this idea. But do you really want your team's season hinging on exhibition injuries?
The Phillies are still hanging around the fringes of the playoff race. How they're doing it with pitching this bad and the number of injuries they've suffered is beyond me.
They could have easily mailed it in on Sunday after Saturday's absolutely crushing defeat. But they somehow rallied for five runs in the 9th inning of one of the best closers in baseball and hung on for a win. A win like that can build some momentum. Here's wishing speedy recoveries to Chase Utley, Shane Victorino and Michael Bourn. The next 12 games are huge for the Phils. They only play one team with a winning record (the Braves) while hosting the Marlins and visiting the Nationals and Pirates. If they can win 9 or 10 of the next 12, they'll have plenty of confidence for the next homestand with the Dodgers, Padres and Mets coming to town.
Jeff Lyons, senior managing editor of the Philadelphia Bar Reporter and Bar Reporter Online, is a fanatical Philadelphia sports fan. He may also need to alter his medication in the coming weeks as the baseball playoff races unfold.