15 on 6: Player safety a concern at TCF Bank Stadium

15 on 6: Player safety a concern at TCF Bank Stadium
December 20, 2010, 3:30 pm
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Monday, Dec. 20, 2010
9:14 AM

By Jim MillerCSNChicago.com

Jay Cutler and a few Bears have been critical of the league allowing Monday night's game to be played outdoors at TCF Bank Stadium at the University of Minnesota. The players have a point because the stadium was not built to host games after November. More importantly, it's all politics playing into the ongoing Collective Bargaining Agreement negotiations. Hypocrisy is again being displayed by the NFL where the players feel obligated to make a good point to the public through the media. The league has been cracking down on helmet to helmet hits more than ever this year. Commissioner Roger Goodell says "it's all about player safety", which is baloney with his latest decision to play at TCF. It's all about increasing revenues by going to an 18-game schedule along with CYA. There simply will not be enough players to accomplish the goal of 18 games. Injuries are at a record number in 2010. Players placed on Injured Reserve is even worse, up by more than 50 players compared to last year. Even with these record numbers, the owner's standpoint is the desire to play two more games with no increase in pay. You cannot be serious or even remotely make this up! Thus, the league for public image concerns, wanted to take a stronger stance on safety because concussions are all the rage lately in the media. Show sympathy to the public and indicate they are addressing the issue. Can any rational person, business, or industry concerned about safety really subject its workers to head injuries by playing on a block of ice? Almost laughable when you think about it!

Bigger Picture

Increase the rosters to 68, allow teams to placeactivate players from IR at any point of season, and add two more weeks pay. A simple solution, but owners do not want costs of two more weeks pay or any increased player costs with increased roster size. Amazing how we all want things for free, even though numbers prove teams will not be able to field a team for 18 games with the current injury situation and how Injured reserve is utilized. The current roster is 57, but 68 is just a number in my head that I feel is sufficient. It is a buffer number. A team can probably get away with 6465 but a lot of guys practice who should not be due to injuries. Extra bodies should be agreeable with owners because:

1. Owners would be protecting their biggest investments (marquee playershigh priced contracts who need to rest rather than practice). It enables the best product to get on the field which fans are paying to see.

2. Owners could be developing a future NFL star player for practice squad compensation. (RB Arian Foster of the Texans is leading the league in rushing right now, that is called return on investment. He may be the Texans only bright spot of the season.)

3. The Key is: scoutingpersonnel department need to be earning their keep with correct analysis of players added to the roster, allows teams to develop players into their system, teams will be more capable dealing with injuries that currently derail a season. Teams ultimately, would be more competitive which giving them a better opportunity to contend for postseason play where owners make a lot of money. (The last point I will get into in a future blog as the Bears will be in postseason play).

As a former player, I could not care less and current players could not care less where they are playing tonight's game. It's just political posturing because players who love the game know this is how all games should be played. Which is outdoors in the elements! How you adjust and prepare for playing in the elements, the playing surface, and playing gear, all factor into the outcome of the game. The team most prepared to execute their game plan along with the aforementioned will win.

Jay's elements

Tom Brady made it look like it was 80 degrees and sunny when dismantling the Bears. I thought it was odd Cutler did not scrub down the game balls prior to every game. Almost all starters in the NFL do it including Brady. For those not in the know, there is an allotment of footballs used in every game provided by both teams. They are inspected by officials for scuffs, air pressure, etc. to ensure they are legal and regulation. When regulation footballs come out of the box brand new, they have a layer of film on them which becomes slick in cold or wet weather. Did this slickness contribute to Johnny Knox fumbling the ball that was returned for a touchdown against the Patriots? Point is, the QB is not the only one handling the football and you need to give your team the best chance to win. I used to pay the equipment managers to scrub down every ball weekly. Then I inspected each to ensure they were perfect. In 2001 we led the league with the least amount of turnovers. Turnovers are the biggest factor in deciding the outcome of a game. Turnovers are too big a statistic to ignore. I would suggest Jay start having it done.

Jim Miller, an 11-year former NFL quarterback, is a Comcast SportsNet Bears analyst who can be seen each week on U.S. Cellular Bears Postgame Live. Miller, who spent five seasons with the Bears, analyzes current Chicago QB Jay Cutler in his "15 on 6" blog on CSNChicago.com and can be followed on Twitter @15miller.