The enduring images of the NFL's 2015 Wild Card Weekend will be Antonio Brown lying flat on his back on the turf of Paul Brown Stadium, a yellow penalty flag beside him, and Cincinnati Bengals linebacker Vontaze Burfict pleading his case, first to the referee, then to his head coach—to no avail.
Though Brown's possible concussion was the most prominent injury of the weekend (and Burfict was flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct, a 15-yard penalty that cost the Bengals the game), it was far from an isolated incident. In that same game, Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger left with a shoulder injury, Bengals running back Giovani Bernard was knocked out with a concussion and Bengals safety Reggie Nelson departed with a severely twisted ankle.
Wild Card Weekend could be called Wild Card Carnage—on the heels of one of the most injury-plagued regular seasons in NFL history. Here are some other notable injuries from the weekend:
Jeremy Maclin — High ankle sprain
Davante Adams — Right knee injury
J. J. Watt — Groin injury
Jon Ryan — Nose injury
That's not even mentioning Jadeveon Clowney, Marshawn Lynch and Sam Shields, all of whom were dealing with injuries before the games and were unable to play.
The concussion debate is generating greater focus on football injuries, and (as was the case with Wild Card Weekend) gruesome hits are being repeatedly shown in the media for everyone in the country to see. But there's no denying the uptick in the number of players taken off the field this year. They aren't all special teamers either (no disrespect). We are talking about some of the premier athletes in the game, guys who pride themselves on their work behind the scenes to prepare their bodies for the brutality of NFL football. It hasn't helped much.
Next week's four divisional round games are sure to deliver more of the same. Injuries have always been part of the sport, and players understand that they are probably going to get hurt. But things appear to be getting worse. With almost 10 injuries suffered in just four, first-round playoff games, it's hard to deny the ever increasing frequency of the violence befalling the NFL game.
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