Injuries give players leverage in labor dispute
The hook is that there will be more meaningful football played, and the fans will get two more weekends of what they most want. Players, at least the ones to whom we've spoken, have demonstrated little desire to risk their bodies, even for more money. And so the first weekend was hardy an advertisement for convincing anyone that two more games is sage.
Yep, injuries, as the NFL's talking heads have emphasized, can happen at any time. Witness the season-ending hurts sustained in the preseason. Or even before camps opened, in pre-summer workouts. But the fact that there were so many injuries of such consequence in the opening week of play isn't exactly going to convince players to lay their bodies on the line for a couple more weeks in late January. And if there is no "enhanced season" trump card to play, the issues at the bargaining table get a little stickier, it seems, and the prospects for labor peace more fragmented.
Not even counting the various nicks and scrapes that will sideline key players for a game or two, on its kickoff weekend, the NFL lost for the entire 2010 season at least a couple Pro Bowl performers, a two-time 1,000-yard rusher and a starting center who had rehabbed all offseason to return from a late '09 knee injury.
First off, the idea that fans detest preseason football so much that the only antidote is games which really count. The fallacy: Fans don't dislike the exhibition schedule so much as they do shelling out full freight to view the charade games in which stars like Peyton Manning and Tom Brady pull on baseball caps instead of helmets.
Given the collective carnage, it might be difficult for the two sides to put the Humpty-Dumpty contract talks together again, especially if the expanded schedule is the band-aid.