NFL Crisis: Rash of Injuries to Elite QB’s Could Imperil TV Ratings

AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar

The NFL has a big problem: Star quarterbacks are dropping like flies.

In Week Two of the NFL season, the Pittsburgh Steelers lost stalwart quarterback Ben Roethlisberger for the season to an elbow injury. Also going down on the NFL’s second Sunday was New Orleans Saints legend Drew Brees, with torn ligaments in his thumb, which could keep him out up to two months. These are two future Pro Football Hall-of-Famers.

On March 11, the Jacksonville Jaguars signed free agent quarterback Nick Foles to a four-year, $88 million contract. However, the former Philadelphia Eagles’ Super Bowl MVP broke his collarbone in their season opening loss to Kansas City, and is out at least until mid-November.

Also, Indianapolis Colts franchise QB Andrew Luck retired right before the season at the age of 29, sighting injuries. He was the first-overall pick of the 2012 draft, and was entering the prime of his career. The Colts seemed primed to for big things in 2019 before this retirement shook their foundation.

Speaking of first overall picks, Carolina Panthers QB Cam Newton hurt his foot on Sunday, and it’s unclear how much time he will miss. He’s also dealing with shoulder issues. Newton was the first pick of the 2011 draft..

New York Jets QB Sam Darnold, the third pick in the 2018 draft, sat out the team’s Monday Night Football loss to Cleveland with mono, which will keep him out an undetermined amount of time. And the man signed to back him up, former Denver starter Trevor Siemian, broke his leg against the Browns. Meaning the Jets will now have to start their third quarterback, Washington State’s Luke Falk.

This slew of starting quarterback injuries, and a retirement, can’t be good for the NFL, a quarterback-driven league. If you don’t have an answer at that position, you likely won’t do well as a team.

After coach Jon Gruden was fired by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers he said, “I got kicked out of the league because I had a hard time sustaining at the quarterback position.”

He returned to the league in 2018 with the Raiders, and hasn’t had much success there so far. Why? Because it’s unclear if Derek Carr, who is somewhat inconsistent, is the answer for him at quarterback.

And not only is the NFL’s current QB injury crisis bad for the team’s impacted by it, but also potentially for the league’s TV ratings.

The sports website, The Big Lead, ran a column on Sept. 16 entitled: This NFL Season Has a Looming Primetime QB Catastrophe.

“The NFL has been off to a great start from a ratings perspective, but starting quarterbacks have been dropping like flies and if you look down the road there are already a number of primetime games that will be adversely affected,” wrote columnist Ryan Glasspiegel.

When the networks promote upcoming games, they often feature the quarterbacks squaring off in the promos.

“The Super Bowl is like a movie, and the quarterback is the leading man,” said long-time NFL agent Leigh Steinberg.

And right now, the NFL has a shortage of leading men.


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