The Norman Transcript

August 15, 2013

NFL’s recent rash of injuries exacerbated by social media

By Arnie Stapleton
The Associated Press

NORMAN — New England’s Tom Brady watched his long throw sail past rookie Aaron Dobson just as Tampa Bay defensive end Adrian Clayborn pushed 320-pound left tackle Nate Solder into him during a joint practice Wednesday in Foxborough, Mass.

Brady hit the ground, rocked backward and held his left knee — the same one he tore up in the 2008 season opener that forced him to miss the rest of the year. Even before he limped off the practice field, Twitter went nuts, and not just because it was a two-time MVP quarterback.

Every twisted ankle and sprain has become a trending topic this preseason, giving the impression there’s an injury epidemic at training camps from coast to coast. Teams say that’s all it is — an impression.

“A lot of times there’s a little bit of panic because all we hear about is all the guys who get hurt in training camp,” said Denver Broncos Hall of Fame quarterback-turned-boss John Elway. “That hasn’t changed from when I played.”

What has changed is how that information is disseminated.

Atlanta Falcons president Rich McKay, co-chair of the NFL’s competition committee, noted that while some big-name players have been lost to major injuries, like torn ACLs, every bump and bruise seems to quickly become part of the national narrative.

With so many bloggers competing with traditional news sources for eardrums and eyeballs, “what goes on in the rush to break news now is that people don’t have the same standards to confirm the injury,” McKay said. “They want to make a splash on Twitter and sometimes it’s not reality.”

Like Brady, Kansas City Chiefs running back Jamaal Charles also created quite a buzz on social media.

Charles, who missed an entire season two years ago with a torn ACL in his left knee, turned his right foot midway through practice Monday.

Twitter was atwitter with “NFL insiders” giving conflicting accounts, some saying the Chiefs feared the worst, others saying they were relieved.

Coach Andy Reid briefed reporters when practice ended and said it was a strain and that X-rays were negative. Then, the speculation turned to how long the Pro Bowl running back would be out.