Wonderful stuff, Sports: You just never know when the boom will be lowered on the gridirons of the National Football League.
Here were the good citizens of Patriots Nation comfortably settling in the armchairs of New England and calculating how they might contend with the gathering boredom of an NFL regular season already – in less than two full games – safely resolved as their Patriots were effortlessly rendering pathetic the one team in their division possibly capable of challenging the divine right to the automatic playoff berth they’ve so richly enjoyed this entire millennium.
Whereupon an impertinent Dolphins’ linebacker, improbably named Kiko Alonso, found himself one on one with a stumbling and fairly defenseless Jimmy Garoppolo, enabling Alonso to essentially pile-drive the dashing young understudy quarterback into Foxborough’s unforgiving turf before unceremoniously punctuating the point by landing full force on top of him. It was a total wipeout.
Was it sporting? Honorable? Reckless? Dirty? Fair? Deserving of a penalty or not, for whatever that’s worth? Don’t be ridiculous, old Sport. It was football as we have come to know and love it in the NFL where we worship unconditionally. It was the sort of play that lights up highlight packages on ESPN, which you routinely “ooh” and “ah” over when the sucker getting maimed is not one of your very own dear quarterbacks. The Patriots survived the Dolphins, if barely. But the road to another easy division romp no longer looks quite the giddy cakewalk.
Having been fully baptized in the merciless realities of his profession in only his second trial by NFL fire, Garoppolo staggered from the battlefield looking bewildered and badly in need of a fistful of Advil. But if early reports hold up – indicating a sprained shoulder but no breaks or fractures – he should regard himself one very lucky fellow.
It’s said he’ll miss the Houston game, probably a blessing given it will spare him the demonic attentions of Texan terror J.J. Watt. But it’s expected he’ll then return to deal with Rex Ryan’s sorrowful Buffalo Bills in the final clash leading to the glorious return of Sir Galahad Himself from his banishment to the beach for Deflategate atonement mandated by good buddy Roger Goodell.
It should be noted, one supposes, that while all this is clearly indicated early on, the Pats under Bill Belichick’s shall we say idiosyncratic leadership delight in being misleading in these injury matters.
So we’ll see.
Stunning as it may have been to Patriots’ devotees, the Garoppolo moment was routine fare in Week 2 of the NFL’s grueling regular season grind. In this brutal game of runaway triage, warriors fall like random and scattered bowling pins every week. This week, however, was notably remarkable. A partial roll-call tends to affirm that Garoppolo was lucky.
• In San Diego, Danny Woodhead, a distinguished ex-Pat, carried off with a wrecked knee. Two years ago, Woodhead missed all but two games with a broken ankle.
• In Cleveland, Browns center Cameron Erving rolled out on a stretcher with his head immobilized, rushed to a hospital by ambulance. Seems he was suddenly felled by chest and ribcage cramps, which his fellow linemen described as “scary.”
• At New Jersey’s Meadowlands, Saints cornerback P.J. Williams is hospitalized after enduring two heavy head-hits on the same play. A major concussion is feared. Williams was replacing veteran D-back Delvin Breaux, who suffered a broken fibula in the Saints opener. In his NFL debut, Williams lasted only a couple of snaps as hamstring woes sidelined him his entire rookie season.
• Also kayoed by the dreaded hamstrings were Carolina R-back Jonathan Stewart and Colts wideout Donte Moncrief. In Foxborough, Dolphins all-star running back Arian Foster went down with a groin pull. In Detroit, Lions D-lineman Ezekial Ansal wrecked his ankle while the Vikings’ Adrian Peterson wrecked his knee and Denver’s DeMarcus Ware broke his arm. Just another routinely bloody Sunday in the National Football League.
• Worth further noting are other lingering cases:
Rob Gronkowski, all universe tight end of the Foxboroughs, remains hors de combat although it’s reasonable to question whether his much publicized off-season cruise ship capers on boozy voyages to nowhere might be a factor in his, shall we say, “conditioning.” In Cleveland, it’s said Robert Griffin III, kayoed in the opener, may now miss six more weeks. In Dallas, QB Tony Romo broke a bone in his back in a dumb exhibition game. Then there’s Minnesota’s Teddy Bridgewater (knee), who is gone for the season.
Injuries are a burning NFL issue this season, right alongside in terms of controversy the commissioner and his unlimited powers, which the players association seems at last determined to challenge even if it incurs a major labor-dispute.
It’s the injuries, however, that really worry the NFL moguls, which is why they rather grandly announced at season’s starting the pledging of another $100 million to the research campaign to find answers to the head-injury contretemps.
Understand, please, that they do not do this out of the goodness of their collective hearts. The issue scares them witless. Legal cases claiming humongous damages pile high in the courts and the trend of decisions coming down does not favor the moguls. The fund ruled over by a federal court from which compensation will be awarded the deserving swells by the hour.
It’s big money we’re talking about. Maybe billions! The owners are truly scared. It is about time!