By: C.J. Doon
I think it’s time the NFL addressed the elephant in the room.
For far too long, NFL players have been dealing with the issue of concussions as a result of playing football. Recent events, including the suicide of former NFL linebacker Junior Seau, have shown the horror behind the dangerous game that we all know and love, and yet nothing is being done by the NFL commissioner, the players union, or the owners. Why?
The answer is simple: money.
The NFL is a multi-billion dollar industry, and is showing no signs of slowing down. Before the start of the 2010 season, the NFL signed a 10-year, $2.3 billion contract with Pepsi, the largest contract in professional sports history. The following season, which was marred by talks of a potential lockout and disagreements between the owners and players, still saw the NFL rake in over $9 billion in profits. Concussions, smucussions! Why mess with a good thing?
But then the numbers started rolling in, and the nightmarish stories were told of former players, such as Jim McMahon, suffering from early stage dementia and losing their short term memory. The Concussion Blog, a website that documents concussions sustained each week in the NFL, totaled 171 concussions in the NFL in 2011, more than 10 per week. The NFL responded with a donation of $30 million to the Foundation for the National Institute of Health this season to be used for medical research pertaining to concussion management and treatment. It was the largest donation to any organization in the league’s 92-year history, and yet, it seemed more like a desperate attempt to save the league’s image rather than a heartfelt gift.
This past weekend, we saw three starting quarterbacks go down as a result of concussions. Michael Vick, Alex Smith, and Jay Cutler were all victims of some vicious tackles, and although one of the three hits was penalized, there were no fines handed down to their assailants as a result of their injuries. This is something that has to change. The NFL is doing their best to limit blows to the head, but throwing a flag for a 15-yard penalty while a quarterback lies motionless on the turf? That’s little more than a slap on the wrist. Heavy fines and suspensions need to be levied against players who target the head of an opposing player, and a tackle that results in a concussion should result in an immediate ejection from the game. Nothing more, nothing less.
Remember, Remember the Swoon of November
The New York Giants lost for the second week in a row, this time in a blowout loss to the then 3-5 Cincinnati Bengals. After another brilliant start to the season, the Giants have fallen back down to earth and are in the midst of their…dun dun dun…“November Swoon.” Under head coach Tom Coughlin, the Giants are 13-21 in the month of November, including a three game losing streak last season that nearly kept the Giants from making the playoffs and winning their second Super Bowl in the last five seasons.
“We done been here before,” Pro Bowl defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul told the New York Daily News. “I hate hearing it, but we have.”
Eli Manning has not thrown a touchdown pass since Week 7 against the Redskins, and in the last three games he has completed less than 54% of his passes and thrown four interceptions. Big Blue’s defense has been just as shaky, surrendering more than 370 yards/game and 24 touchdowns on the season. If the Giants want to compete with NFC powerhouses Green Bay, San Francisco, and Chicago, they must find a way to snap out of their two-game skid.
Now, let’s get jump right into this week’s edition of Start ‘Em or Sit’Em!
Carson Palmer, QB, Oakland Raiders – Palmer is quietly having one of the most productive seasons of any quarterback in the NFL, and yet he is owned in less than 67% of leagues. Now in his first full season with the silver and black, Palmer has amassed 151 total fantasy points, placing him in the Top 10 amongst NFL starting quarterbacks. In Week 9 against Tampa Bay, Palmer threw for over 400 yards and four touchdowns, and has produced less than 14 points only once this season. This week, the Raiders take on New Orleans, who have allowed the fourth most points in the NFL this season, including 19 touchdowns through the air. Look for Palmer to continue to put impressive numbers this week against the Saints.
Danny Amendola, WR, St. Louis Rams – Just four weeks ago, Danny Amendola broke his collarbone against the Cardinals, and many wondered if the injury was going to sideline Amendola for the rest of the season. Last week Amendola returned to the field and kick-started the Rams stagnant offense, catching 11 passes for 102 yards and nearly winning the game in overtime on an 80-yard reception that was called back. It’s no secret Amendola is the key to success for the Rams offense, as they lost all three games without him in their starting lineup. Look for Amendola to continue to torch NFL defenses, as the Rams take on the struggling Jets at home in the Edwards Jones Dome.
Tony Romo, QB, Dallas Cowboys – We’ve seen the Bad Tony Romo (five picks against the Bears in Week 4, three picks in the first half against the Giants in Week 9) and we’ve seen the Good Tony Romo (307 yards and three touchdowns against the Giants in Week 1) this season. The problem is, we don’t know which Tony Romo is going to show up on game day. After the Giants’ loss to the Bengals, the Cowboys are suddenly two games back of the division crown, and take on the Browns this week looking to pull within one game of the division. The Browns have given up 16 touchdowns through the air this season, and surrender more than 250 yards passing per game to opposing quarterbacks. Romo and the Cowboys are in need of a big win this Sunday, so look for big numbers on the offensive side of the ball for America’s Team.
Mike Wallace, WR, Pittsburgh Steelers – After suffering a shoulder strain on Monday night against the Chiefs, Big Ben will be out this week when the Steelers take on the Ravens. Byron Leftwich will be taking over as the Steeler’s starting quarterback, and at age 32, Leftwich has not thrown a touchdown pass since the 2009 season. The Ravens own one of the best secondaries in the league led by future hall-of-fame safety Ed Reed, so look for Wallace to be held in check when these division rivals face off in Baltimore.
Colin Kaepernick, QB, San Francisco 49ers – With Alex Smith destined for the sidelines after sustaining a concussion last week, Kaepernick will have to step in to lead the Niners offense. Kapernick has shown speed and quickness, and an excellent ability to elude defenders in the open field. However, the second-year quarterback out of Nevada has some accuracy issues. Against the Bears and DPOY candidate Charles Tillman, that could prove disastrous come Sunday night. I think Kaepernick has the potential to put up solid numbers against Chicago, but his immaturity will ultimately lead to too many costly turnovers for San Francisco.
Willis McGahee, RB, Denver Broncos – McGahee has continued to put impressive numbers this season, even without Tim Tebow and the Broncos heavy rushing attack. However, the Broncos take on San Diego this weekend in a rematch of the epic Sunday night comeback led by Peyton Manning in Week 6. In that game, McGahee was held to only 56 yards on 17 carries, and managed to produce only 9 fantasy points. The Chargers rank second in the league in rush defense, limiting their opponents to less than 83 yards/game. This matchup simply does not favor McGahee and the Broncos rushing attack, so consider sitting the veteran running back.