President of the NFL Players Association this summer JC Tretter’s ill-advised suggestion that running backwards fake injuries to create leverage setting off alarms across the league. On Monday, the NFL finally responded by filing an expected filing complaint against the NFLPA.
A few hours later, Cleveland Browns running back Nick Chubb’s reconstructed knee exploded into a million pieces on the field. The NFL couldn’t have asked for worse timing. Since entering the league, Chubb has been one of the toughest people to tackle between the tackles. And yet he may face a tough recovery.
At the age of 40, Aaron Rodgers will play quarterback for the New York Jets next season. The nature of the multiple tears suffered by 27-year-old Chubb puts his future in jeopardy. Meanwhile, Chubb was a national reminder of why running backs act out of self-preservation. Fortunately, the Browns running back was able to secure his contract bump, but 2024 will be a crucial contract year. Even their franchise tag numbers increased by a smaller percentage than any other on the field, including kickers over the past decade.
Every week, running backs race with a ticking time bomb in their knees, ankles and feet, only to hit a wall. Watching these running backs drop like flies incites an extremism among running backs eager to protect their livelihoods. If that happens, you end up with norm-disrupting positions like Tretter’s.
Running backs are a different breed. They endure ten times as many collisions as any other skilled position. And the NFL shows time and time again that their risks are not appreciated. Going as far as faking injuries is extreme, but there is a middle ground.
For running backs recovering from an injury, they should not agree to touch a field until they are 100 percent. Not 90 percent or when the pain is manageable. Many of these runners play with a sense of pride and consider themselves gladiators. Playing through injuries is part of machismo, but there’s no courage in being told you’re expendable when you have scars related to playing through pain. However, the NFL does not respect running backs or their sacrifices.
Tretter’s job is to advocate for the players, but the footage aired on NFL broadcasts does the work for him. His comments this summer got him in trouble, but maybe it’s time for running backs to take care of themselves first and foremost.
This week is the Rams stop Cam Akers as he packaged his contract to interested franchisees for delivery from the trading bloc. This is the second time the Rams and Akers have done this dance. Two years ago, Akers returned from an Achilles tendonitis he ripped in July in time for the Super Bowl run. Now, in the final year of his rookie contract, the Rams are tossing him aside like he’s a… DiCAprio girlfriend turns 26.
On Sunday, Saquon Barkley twisted his ankle and will miss the coming weeks of football. He’s playing on a one-year deal after the Giants franchise tipped him and then awarded Daniel Jones a multi-year extension.
Jonathan Taylor, the NFL’s top young running back, has continued since July to nurse an ankle injury that he had surgically repaired in late January amid a contract dispute with the Indianapolis Colts and Jim Irsay. It is impossible to say whether Taylor is on the PUP list part of a tactic or a real injury. Due to Tretter’s comments, it is difficult to estimate. But after seeing the carnage ball carriers endured, we’ll just take his word for it.