It’s training camp, so players are getting injured. It’s very frustrating. Brice Butler sprained his foot, Sean Lee is a little gimpy, Ryan Switzer has a hamstring strain – so do I, as I write this, for the record. Writing about the NFL is a contact sport.
Probably most concerning of all, Tyron Smith, a huge part of the best offensive line in the league, is having back troubles – returning to practice on Monday after missing nearly a week. You need your back to play offensive line. Usually.
Such is football, in ways both mundane – let’s say the hamstring – and terrifying, as in pretty much every report about how prevalent brain damage is among football players. I no longer play fantasy sports with the intensity and focus I once did, but the major difference between how I play, say, fantasy baseball, and fantasy football is how upset I got about injuries.
In fantasy baseball, you might reasonably expect a player to play the full season. In football, that’s often an unreasonable expectation. I started stocking up on WRs instead of RBs several seasons ago because of how rarely the latter seemed to make it through the season. Injuries, in football, are not a bug, they’re pretty much the thing that’s going to happen when you have large people running into each other at full speed.
For the Cowboys, last year was blessed with good injury luck. They’re unlikely to have a complete repeat of that experience, and it’s amazing what can change the complexion of your football team. I remember a lot of ‘Boys teams that seemed to be in pretty good shape until they lost an offensive lineman or two. If you’re lucky enough to have an elite CB, you probably don’t have three of them.
And so, once you know all this, you don’t enjoy the pre-season all that much. A long training camp is great, and not great. Four preseason games, even if the best players don’t play for much of them, seems gratuitous and unnecessary. It’s nerve-wracking to watch, and nerve-wracking to wait through.
So, for now, we’ll probably all feel a little more sane if we don’t think too hard about any of it ‘til we have to. Signing the punter to a four-year deal is a great kind of news to consume this time of year, Sean Lee’s muscle tightness is not. There will, of course, be plenty of time for all that.
Send your condolences to Andy for his old, failing body by tweeting him @andytobo.