As we enter the month of July the summer is now in full swing. The heat is sweltering, the air is filled with the scent of barbecue in the distance, and the sport of choice is Major League Baseball. The truth is there is a very large faction of the country counting down the days until the NFL season starts (poor MLB).
So we just witnessed Cleveland Cavaliers versus Golden State Warriors part three. The Warriors went all “Super Saiyan” adding superstar Kevin Durant and winning the rubber match. The fans outcry of unbalance and lack of parity rang throughout the season. Questions like: “How can we make the NBA more like the NFL?” would pop up left and right. Well, folks, I’m here to explain to you why that will never happen.
More than a Bug:
Submitted for your approval, my stance on parity in the NFL revolves around one thing, injuries. Sure you have a hard cap that makes certain maneuvers impossible (like adding Durant to a champion caliber Warriors squad).
The cap space in this instance serves as a minimal reason. No, Injuries are the biggest reason. Every NFL team has to anticipate injuries to multiple positions during the season.
A team can start off with a loaded roster and then end up looking like a shell of themselves by week five. Of course, one injury can derail an NBA season but think about the abundance of injuries in the NFL. If you think I’m way off that’s fine but let me ask you, in what other sport do we wait for the injury report to come out every week?
I mean seriously the injury report in the NFL is a major part of the game planning and (of course) gambling. Still think I’m crazy OK. Name the last time the same two teams played each other in two straight Super Bowls (cue the Jeopardy music).
If you said the Dallas Cowboys versus the Buffalo Bills in Super Bowl 27 & 28 you would be correct. Ask yourself when a team “wins” free agency, how many times have you watched them hoisting the Lombardi trophy?
The Great Exception:
Somebody will read the above and say “But what about the New England Patriots Ab?” I, of course, have a plan for that. Bill Belichick, Tom Brady, and company are a prime example of what I’m talking about.
The first thing people point to when talking about Belichick success is Brady, fine. The second thing always seems to be how he finds guys off the scrap heap or the bargain bin. Let’s focus there. The reason Belichick finds these dudes is because he’s building his team every year with depth in mind.
Sure other NFL teams have it mind but they usually go after top talent first. The Patriots find ways to have two or three of everything. Not just a great QB but a good one behind him and an adequate one behind that. How many Patriot teams have we seen with “no name” wide receivers and running backs?
Not just the Patriots.
We can look at any team that makes the Conference Finals or the Super Bowl and were looking at a team that’s down one of their big guns, guaranteed. Even the rest of the playoff teams are literally mash units. Last season’s Green Bay Packers, for instance, had a wide receiver playing running back down the stretch So you see even if they had a higher cap, injuries would decimate teams.
We say it every year there is a favorite a few contenders and then a team flies in out of nowhere. That team usually gets healthy at the right time or at a key position.
We’ve seen it before. Bob Sanders coming back to help the Colts win the ’06 Super Bowl. Percy Harvin returning from injury giving Seattle a new threat in the 2014 playoffs. Both players missed the majority of the season and their return was like adding a pro bowler to your playoff roster.
Time after time we’ve seen whole seasons shattered by a string of injuries. We have become numb to the feeling at this point. Injuries obviously matter in every professional league. Injured players and the subsequent players to fill in behind are keys to NFL success. It’s the only sport where we anticipate who’s not playing.