Pain, Lies and Lions Headline Week 2

It seemed as though the theme in the NFL this week was injuries. With key players such as Jamaal Charles, Michael Vick, Tony Romo and Aaron Hernandez adding to the already large list of players who are currently out and on the IR list, it seems that Roger Goodell’s “protect the players” policies are not really work­ing out. From what I’ve seen, it hasn’t necessarily made the game much safer, just different.

For example, let’s take a closer look at the headhunting hit that Dunta Robinson of the Atlanta Falcons put on the Phila­delphia Eagles’s Jeremy Maclin. It really was a nasty, vicious and intentional hit, and this is just one year after he placed a similar hit on DeSean Jackson, leav­ing him concussed. So how does he pay for it? With a slap-on-the-wrist fine. I’m sorry, Mr. Goodell, but that’s not going to stop anyone from being the aggressive player that he may want to be. In fact, with certain people like James Harrison of the Pittsburgh Steelers, it may just lead to heavier animosity. That doesn’t even mention the widespread anti- Goodell sentiment that has been voiced by those who are upset with the changes to the game. These changes have made it less entertaining and take away from the aggressive nature that is football’s foundation. Players back in the day like “Mean” Joe Green and Lawrence Taylor put fear into the hearts of quarterbacks and offenses throughout the league. But hey, I’m glad Goodell is at least trying to find a solution and I commend his ef­forts. However, sometimes effort alone is not enough.

Another problem that surfaced this week is the loophole exploited in the NFL rules behind faking injuries. In the Mon­day Night Football game between the New York Giants and the St. Louis Rams, two Giants players suddenly dropped to the turf during a crucial drive where it seemed as though the Giants were not able to change personnel or get their defense set properly. Coincidence? I don’t think so.

According to Tom Coughlin, the players were suffering from cramps due to the up-tempo drive the Rams were having. There are a few suspicious facts involved with that claim. First, if you watched the game in real time it seemed as though the two Giants players fell to the ground almost simultaneously and they didn’t seem to be grabbing any part of their body where cramping would oc­cur, as one would expect. In addition, al­though one of the players, safety Deon Grant, may be old by NFL terms, I’m sure a veteran like him would know what being conditioned for the NFL would mean. There’s no reason for cramping in 60-degree weather, especially from two players at the same time. Let’s also not forget that this is Tom Coughlin we’re talking about, a coach who is still known for his strict policies. I’d be shocked that his players would not be conditioned at the start of the season, even with the shortened offseason. With that said, as of right now there’s nothing Roger Goodell or the NFL can do about it. The injury timeout was taken, and a gaping loophole has been exposed in the rules of the NFL. In my eyes, Goodell did his best in trying to limit this occurring again, because it would be tough to put in a penalty or any other form of punishment for what could be a real injury.

This situation scares me. I just hope the NFL doesn’t take the same route soc­cer did in having a bunch of fakers take the field. This is real football, so can we please have athletes on the field and not actors?

In terms of the games played this week, my upset pick goes to the Tennessee Ti­tans who overcame a very impressive Bal­timore Ravens team from last week and made “Average Joe” Flacco seem average again. The Pittsburgh Steelers defense seems to have woken up after shutting out the Seattle Seahawks. The Eagles have exposed a clear weakness in their own run defense as Michael Turner’s big runs at the end of the game clearly led to an Atlanta Falcons victory.

Still, I’m most impressed so far by the performance of the Detroit Lions. I’m so impressed that I am fully on their band­wagon two weeks into the season. The Lions not only have the potential to have a winning record for the first time since 2000, but they are most definitely play­off contenders who could put up a fight against other teams for an NFC wild card spot. Matt Stafford has been explosive and Calvin Johnson is proving that he is an elite wide receiver, if not the best of the best. That reminds me of Mr. Jahvid Best, who is getting all sorts of yards on the ground and through the air.

I’m extremely excited for a team that has historically been one of the worst football franchises, if not the worst, in the NFL. It will be very interesting to see how they perform against good teams heading forward. Even though they have been on the right side of blow­outs in their last two games, they have to be carefull with the Kansas City Chiefs and Tampa Bay Buccaneers. They may not be the best of teams to gauge a con­tender upon, but I’m definitely hopeful. Go Lions!

Contact Albert Raminfard at [email protected].