5 Ways The NFL Can Avoid So Many Torn ACLs In 2014

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5 Ways the NFL Can Prevent Torn ACLs in 2014

Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports

An abrupt shift in the NFL safety story took place over the weekend, as several players fell to ACL injuries, adding to the countless number of high profile athletes to suffer from this injury in recent years. With all the focus being placed on concussion preventing tactics, we possibly lost sight of measures that could prevent the ACL injury, an injury that ends seasons and even careers.

The concussion worry is still a huge deal and is more worrisome for the future health of the athlete once he retires. However, the ACL injury is just a serious in the sense of how it changes an athlete’s life. A massive amount of money is involved when a player goes from starter to bench warmer because of chronic injury. It could change a man’s life, a team’s success, and even alter the economy of a city. When star players are playing, people spend money at games, on merchandise, and at local bars and restaurants.

More importantly, the ACL injury could prevent a man from taking part in his livelihood. It could change the way he is able to provide for his family, and ultimately lead him down a path of depression, unable to perform the way he was meant to, due to an injury he sustained just doing his job. It’s this concept that makes the ACL injury so important, and the NFL must take steps in improving the chances a player has in combating and preventing this injury. I believe it can be done, as long as there is a devotion to the issue from all sides of the league.

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5. Equipment

Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

A ton of focus has been placed on improving the equipment to protect the head, ribs and spine in recent years. However, I wonder if more can be done to protect the knee. Money and the right minds might find a way to better protect the vulnerable knee area.

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4. Training

Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Advancements in training have made athletes more durable in some cases and less durable in others. With athletes focusing so much attention on speed and strength, it’s possible flexibility and agility have taken a backseat. Also, some argue that players’ muscles have become so tight from strength training, causing ligaments to strain and be vulnerable to tearing. With an effort to study different training techniques, we could find ways to enhance a player’s ability to both avoid hits and endure hits that might injure the ACL. In addition, advancements could be made in the ways players return from ACL injuries.

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3. Rules

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There is still a massive epidemic of spearing and leading with the helmet, even what seems like an intention to injure in many NFL players. We all like to harp on the rules for changing the game, but with exciting players like Adrian Peterson, Reggie Bush and Rob Gronkowski getting injured, wouldn’t you rather see these players play rather than worry about how vicious the hits are allowed to be in the league?

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2. Coaching

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

There’s a style of tackling that has somehow disappeared. Remember when the preferred method of tackling was to wrap up low and bring down the ball carrier? Now it seems most defenders lunge with the shoulder, keeping the arms tucked in, preventing the arms from being useful in the tackle at all. With this kind of tackle, the ball carrier often jukes his way out of the hit. If you look at game film, there are countless examples of not only how this style of hitting causes injuries to opponents and teammates, but also how it’s a poor form of tackling that is subject to failure.

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1. Mentality

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In the NBA, the focus has shifted from star player to team ball. In baseball, more attention is now paid to the all-around athlete, the great hitters, and the great pitchers, rather than the Hulky home run guys. This proves that a change in mentality is possible. In the NFL, with a focus now on a passing attack, the same goes. However, the popularity of the massive hit against the efficiency of the wrap-up tackle will be a struggle to change. It’s this change in mentality, wherever it comes from, that could be key to improving safety across the board in the NFL, more so than changes in rules.