The most enduring argument against expanding the NFL’s regular season to 18 games, something that fans and owners would love, is that playing football at the highest level is extremely hazardous to the health of the players. Everyone knows this, of course, and the plans of a franchise can change in the hours it takes a game to be completed, even if it’s a “meaningless” preseason game.
There are roughly a million things that can go wrong, physically, when you have a cadre of men who are paid to be the strongest, fastest athletes they can be while running into each other for an entire football game, even with the league’s outward stance on playing the game as safely as possible — a phrase that elicits grins from even the biggest Roger Goodell fan.
Football isn’t a safe sport, and there’s no way to make it safe without changing the fundamental nature of the game. So far, we’ve seen players obtain injuries during the warmup to the regular season that could see them miss substantial time when the games actually matter. Here are five injuries that look to shape the regular season in ways that no one wants to consider during the offseason.