On July 30th, Peyton Manning signed a new contract with the Indianapolis Colts, making him the highest paid player in NFL history. Manning, a four-time most valuable player in the NFL, agreed to a 5-year $90-million contract with the Colts, earning $23 million in total compensation this season. On August 24th, the Colts signed then retired quarterback Kerry Collins as insurance, to give Manning more time to recover from off-season neck surgery. Today, the Colts are 0-10, and some media outlets have included them in Andrew Luck talks. How quickly things change!

The reality is that if you look at any top team, in any sport, many of them are ONE INJURY AWAY FROM BEING MEDIOCRE. All it takes is a devastating end to the right player (or I guess I should say “wrong” player), and the course of any team would drastically change. Manning’s injury shows how quickly a Super Bowl team can turn into a Lottery Pick team.


Imagine where many of the great teams in sports history would be if you threw one key injury in the mix. Imagine where the 1996 Chicago Bulls would’ve been if, after one of his patented soaring dunks, Michael Jordan landed awkwardly and popped a knee. I can guarantee there wouldn’t have been 72 wins or a championship. We saw what happened to the team after each of his retirements.
Imagine the 2009 NFC Championship game. If Jared Allen flies around the edge and blind sides Drew Brees, breaking his arm. The Saints have one of the deadliest offensive arsenals I’ve ever witnessed, but I’m not putting much faith in the 2nd string guy. (by the way, who is he?)
Imagine last year’s BCS Championship if Cam Newton exits the game in the 1st quarter, due to injury. Do you honestly think they would’ve still been the team lifting that crystal football?

I don’t expect the players to play any differently than they always have. Once you start playing cautious, injuries are more prone to happen. But I do expect them to avoid UNNECESSARY SITUATIONS. I absolutely cringe when I see Aaron Rodgers still in the huddle, in the 4th quarter, when Green Bay is beating a team by 35 points. Why would you take a risk with your “cash cow”? Even with all their weapons on offense, we saw how this team looked when Rodgers went out with a concussion last season. I witnessed Lamichael James get injured at the end of the Oregon-Cal game, when he really had no business being in a 37-15 game that was basically over. I hate to bring the Boston Red Sox collapse back up, especially since the media has finally left it alone. But their downfall started with injuries to their Pitching core, Kevin Yukolis, Dustin Pedroia, and Jacoby Ellsbury. Not to continue to pick on Boston fans, but I also witnessed the Celtics fall short of their Championship aspersions in 2008 and 2009 after injuries to Kevin Garnett and Kendrick Perkins changed the team dynamic. The Pittsburgh Penguins were the top team in the Eastern Conference at the point of the season when Sidney Crosby went out with a concussion. We can only guess if their outcome would’ve been different with him on the ice, but it would be hard to imagine a team not playing better with it’s best player in the game instead of on the sideline.

I know sports have become all about statistics. We criticize a pitcher’s ERA even if he is undefeated. We drop a college team’s rank if they don’t beat the opposing team by enough points. It’s all become about the NUMBERS. But the next time a team continues to run up the score, or keep in their starting lineup against a defeated team, just remember, EVERY TEAM is ONE INJURY AWAY from becoming the worst team in the league.

  1. slickzmoney says:

    Nice read. Some teams are obviously more vulnerable than others. The Packers might be good enough to overcome losing Rogers as I think Flynn is a capable back-up(better than half of the league’s starters imo), but hope we never find out. There have also been a few examples of teams that still won it all despite losing a “key” guy. The biggest one that comes to mind is The Giants in Super Bowl 25(?) when Phil Simms was out and Jeff Hostetler led them to a W. Also the Redskins won it all behind back-up and Super Bowl MVP Doug Williams(they were also minus their starting RB – remember Timmy Smith getting his first ever start in that SB and going for over 200 yards and then never being heard from again?). But as a rule teams can’t lose their leader and expect to keep winning.

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