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'A big ol' poopfest': Seahawks carnage and the future of Thursday Night Football

Michael-Shawn Dugar, Seahawks reporter for Seattle PI.
KUOW Photo/Megan Farmer
Michael-Shawn Dugar, Seahawks reporter for Seattle PI.

Last Thursday’s Seahawks game was a great opportunity to practice up on some Greek vocabulary terms. Let’s start with “Pyrrhic victory.”

Their win over Arizona came at a steep cost: 11 injured players, including Richard Sherman. The star was knocked out for the season with a torn Achilles tendon: yet another Greek misfortune.

Now the Seahawks’ compliance with concussion protocols are under review by the NFL over Russell Wilson’s flyover tour of the concussion tent, which wasn’t even zipped before he popped up and returned to the field.

Bill Radke sat down with Michael-Shawn Dugar of the Seattle PI to talk about gridiron gladiators. They have a lot of incentives to lie about their injuries, Dugar said – a lot of which are driven by our need for entertainment.

“The broadcast did Russell Wilson absolutely no favors,” Dugar said. He’s referring to the moment when Wilson took a clear hit to the chin. It snapped his head back and landed him on the ground for several moments. After being sent off the field, he sat down in the concussion tent – which Dugar likes to call the Chamber of Secrets – stood up, and appeared not to speak to anyone before returning to the field of play.

The stakes of concussions in the NFL are quite high: almost as high as the rates of underreporting. Nothing illustrates those two things better than the case of former New England Patriot Aaron Hernandez. After he was found guilty of murder, Hernandez hanged himself in prison earlier this year. Autopsies showed he suffered from the most severe case of CTE ever found in a person his age. But the number of concussions he reported over his three-year tenure in the NFL? Just one.

“Football, how it’s constructed, it benefits the player to be dishonest about injury,” Dugar said. This covers everything from concussions to Sherman’s Achilles, an injury he’d already been playing on for over a month. But Dugar said that’s what we applaud. “I don’t want to tell people what they should feel guilty about, but football is… primitive. At its core, it’s just the biggest, strongest, fastest dudes we can find, running into each other for a few hours while we drink Coors Light.”

And he doesn’t see that changing anytime soon. Because of the financial incentives to keep going (and the career-ending possibility of needing to stop), players will go until their bodies break down. The average tenure in the NFL is four years.

“The NFL is a billion-dollar corporation, and the way they get there is by giving people what they want, which is more.” Richard Sherman has some colorful thoughts about the matter, which he expressed eloquently in a Players Tribune op-ed and more memorably in the video below.

Regardless of Sherman’s feelings, Dugar said Thursday Night Football is too popular for the league to scrap it. So this week, the lights will come up on Thursday night again. And just like in ancient Greece, after the players walk into the arena, it’s anyone’s guess who will make it out unscathed. 

Year started with KUOW: 1985 – 1986, 1991 – 2004, 2012