Sometimes it just seems that the ridiculous win-at-all-costs, player-health-be-damned sports mentality that permeates the National Football League will never end. It’s a part of the jockdom of the gridiron.
Thomas Boswell, a sports writer with The Washington Post, this week did a column on two different approaches to sports-team management of injuries, that of baseball’s Washington Nationals and football’s Washington Redskins have take to injuries. It’s a good read and an eye-opening story.
Boswell lauds the Nationals for their “patient franchise philosophy” when it came to star pitcher Stephen Strasburg. Boswell noted that when Nationals General Manager Mike Rizzo declined to have Strasburg play with an injured arm, which would have exacerbated the pitcher’s injuries. So when Strasburg appears for spring training, he and his arm will be well.
But Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III, who had an injured knee, didn’t have the same out from management. from Mike Shanahan, as Strasburg. Griffin played through his injuries, and on Wednesday underwent surgery to reconstruct his right knee. This is the second time that Griffin has had that type of massive surgery.
Bottom line is that the Nationals are taking a long-term outlook that keeps its players’ health a priority, since men like Strasburg are a valuable asset to the team that need to be preserved. The Redskins’ football dynasty is not taking the long view.
I can’t help but be reminded of the many years the NFL was in denial about concussions and their long-term impact,the topic of litigation brought against the league by several thousand ex-players. For years, the NFL let players sustain repeated head injuries that we now know cause permanent brain damage.
Boswell summed up the parallel tales of Strasburg and Griffin far better than I can.
“No one knows the sum of either star’s career,” he wrote. “The odds still favor them both. But one answer is in: We know which young man was treated as we would wish for a family member and which was exploited to the point of abuse.”