As we approach the end of the NFL regular season, there has been lots of talk regarding resting players. There are many different views regarding this practice. Some are of the opinion that players get paid to play, and unless they are legitimately injured, they should do just that. Play. You have others who feel that if there is nothing to gain (i.e. playoff seeding already settled, or, playoff football won’t be happening this season), then let them sit. Personally, I think they should play.
As I write this, it is early in the morning of Thursday, December 28. Christmas 2017 was three days ago, yet I, and countless others, are preparing themselves for another workday. We don’t get paid ANYWHERE near what the 53rd man on an NFL roster gets paid, yet here we are, plying our respective trades. Yes, the various responsibilities of life is a significant factor that drives us to keep plugging along. No matter what the motivation, we continue to get up and go.
Rams head coach Sean McVay has already announced that none of the following players will play in this Sunday’s game: Jared Goff, Todd Gurley, Aaron Donald, Andrew Whitworth, John Sullivan, Alec Ogletree, Rodger Saffold, Mark Barron and Cooper Kupp. That’s a whopping nine starters, with other starters slated to play a “limited” role. God forbid if all of those players were unable to play due to injury.
However, to have them at the game as spectators is quite a sobering development. Is this fair to Rams fans? Especially those who have paid their hard-earned money to attend the game expecting to see their favorite players/best product on the field.
Resting players is not a new practice, however, it is not welcomed when it happens. Fans have a right to expect to attend a game and see their favorite player(s) perform if able.
A couple of years ago, my sons and I chose to go to an Atlanta Hawks game, in anticipation of seeing Chris Paul, then a member of the New Orleans Hornets. To our shock and dismay, Paul suffered an injury the night before they came to Atlanta. We already had the tickets so we went to the game. Unfortunately, we were disappointed twice, as not only did the Hawks lose, additionally we were unable to see Chris Paul play – which was the main reason we chose to attend that particular game.
Other teams will follow the Rams lead and rest players. Dallas Cowboys tackle Tyron Smith is probably going to be held out as the Cowboys had their playoff hopes extinguished when losing last week to the Seahawks. On the other side of the resting idea, you have Chicago Bears coach John Fox.
On Sunday’s upcoming game against Minnesota, Fox state: “It’s still a game, everybody has to play it and you approach it that way.” Perhaps in the minority, Fox’s position is not uncommon, and will be employed by other coaches as well.
Resting players is a hot button topic that won’t be going away anytime soon. Something must be done to address it as it will become an even bigger issue if it’s not acknowledged. In the NBA, the commissioner levies fines when teams “rest” players, particularly in marquee matchups, or in markets where teams make a single season appearance. Will we see something comparable implemented in the NFL? It may be the time for a similar deterrent in the NFL.