Let’s first be thankful that the injury bug didn’t hit us like last year. In the grand scheme of things, the Miami Dolphins are healthy. DeVante Parker is the only player who would’ve been expected to get significant snaps on Sunday vs. the Tennessee Titans that’ll not be available 1:00 at Hard Rock Stadium this Sunday.
Yet, say that to MarQueis Gray or Tony Lippett and see if they feel the injury bug was generous this year.
In a question that was born from the confusion about how the CB #2 “battle of training camp” became a “this-guy-is-no-longer-on-the-team-and-the-other-guy-looks-bad” situation, it was the way Armando Salguero said what he said about Tony Lippett’s achilles injury that catalyzed me to reflect so deeply.
Crazy as it sounds, ladies and gentleman, NFL players are human. We consume ourselves with the aura of inescapable perseverance like Cameron Wake returning from the same injury, and somehow code this ridiculousness into our brains as the norm. At least I did. Of course, you can come back from an achilles injury the next year! It happens all the time.
Except maybe I have a faulty assumption? Yeah, pretty sure that’s it.
I won’t pretend to know any statistics on the matter in terms of returns from achilles injuries by NFL position, but just thinking about how important the achilles tendon is in the physics of movement. If you think of the achilles as a focal point of concentrated force as you propel yourself from the ground to run, jump, dive, what-have-you, it’s a fundamental aspect to athleticism. If that system is compromised in any way, movement becomes different. And the reality is that, what might be an infinitesimally slight difference for someone who works a desk job like me, it could be the straw that break’s the camel’s back in an NFL player’s quest for long-term work.
So instead of thinking about this in a vacuum of black-and-white, I’ll appreciate the layers of gray. What kind of tear to the achilles? What position does the player play, and what skill sets are needed by that position? What’s the margin of error if athleticism is “different” ever so slightly?
If there’s anything I’ve realized, it’s that an achilles injury might be the most devastating non-head/spine injury in the NFL landscape today: it’s not a mountain that everyone can climb.
To be fair to the NFL players who risk their well being for my entertainment, not only will I be more cautious in projecting a player who has suffered an achilles injury, but I’ll stop dismissing everything as if it’s nothing. “The injury bug” became an empty shell of an expression in my worldview, and the interview with Armando helped provide a new framework.
Thank you, Armando.