One of the season's surprise success-story teams, the NFL's New Orleans Saints, will line up in St. Louis Sunday without the two Saints who did the most to turn things around this fall in the Superdome.
They are Jeff Blake, the quarterback who broke a foot in the
first quarter of the Oakland game Sunday as New Orleans' winning streak ended at six, 31-22, and Ricky Williams, the running back who broke an ankle seven days earlier.
"Injuries are by far the worst thing about football,"
Oakland owner Al Davis says. "It's such a beautiful game until people get hurt."
You can look it up: Injury luck controls the destiny of
every good pro club.
* * * *
Injury Luck Good and Bad
The Denver Broncos present the most conspicuous recent
example of NFL injury luck--good and bad.
Like most champions before them, and after, the 1997-98
Broncos escaped serious injury to win consecutive Super Bowls.
Then in 1999-2000, Denver lost many of its best players,
running back Terrell Davis and quarterback Brian Griese among them, and can't get back to
Injury luck influences other sports, too, but it's seldom
the controlling influence elsewhere.
When you hit a home run, you rarely break an ankle jogging
around second base.
You seldom break a foot dunking a basketball.
In most sports, injuries are a nuisance.
In football, they're a menace.
* * * *
Wounded Saints Hit Cleanly
Because human beings are involved in eight or 10 violent
collisions on every play of every NFL game, sports fans expect and accept injuries as a
fact of life in football.
Still, some of football's worst injuries are suffered on
More than one seemingly superbly-conditioned running back
has taken a season-ending hit from himself--while cutting sharply, perhaps, to evade an
OATES ON FOOTBALL
To reach the Super Bowl game, teams must hope they can avoid injuries to key players.
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