Mental Musings…

There were two news stories that played a central role in the sports world yesterday.  The first involved Cam Newton and the fact that he would have shoulder surgery sometime next week to repair a partially torn rotator cuff in his shoulder.  According to this report on, this injury happened in Week 14 of last season.

That same report says that Cam Newton will miss the team’s OTAs but that he is “expected to be ready” for training camp in late July.  Just as a rotator cuff injury is important to a pitcher in baseball, surgery to repair an injury there is important to a football QB for the same reason:

  • Passing a football requires the same sort of arm motion that throwing a baseball does and passing a football is critically important to playing the QB position in the NFL.

Per the report linked above, an MRI showed this partial tear in the rotator cuff in Week 15 of last season.  So, let me do a timeline here:

  1. Dec 11, 2016:  Panthers beat the Chargers at home and this is the game where the injury occurred.
  2. Dec 19, 2016:  Panthers beat the Skins in Washington.
  3. Sometime between December 11 and December 19, the MRI showing the injury took place.

The Panthers’ season ended on Sunday 1 January 2017; Newton played in every game for the Panthers throughout the season but by the time the season ended, the team and Cam Newton knew about this injury for at least 2 weeks.  So, that raises this question:

  • Why has this surgery been put off until the last week of March such that the rehab process will keep him out of OTAs and make him a “maybe” for the start of training camp?

The team says he has been seeing a rehab specialist and that the decision to do the surgery was made because Newton experienced pain in his shoulder during the rehab.  I am not a doctor and I do not play one on TV, but I know enough about anatomy to recognize that rotator cuff tears – whole or partial – are not likely to heal themselves enough to withstand the stresses of professional athletic endeavors.  Even if I assume that this injury has been monitored by the team and the player and the player’s physicians since January 2, 2017, I have to wonder why it took 11 weeks to realize what had to be done.

I wish Cam Newton well; I hope he can recover and that he can come back and be a quality QB for the Panthers this year and in upcoming years.  However, the postponement of this surgery to the point where he will miss OTAs and only “might” be ready for training camp is mystifying on a lot of levels.

The other dominating story from yesterday involves NBA players taking time off from regular season games because they say they need the rest.  They cite new science which shows that injuries and fatigue are related.  The problem is that teams rest all of their star players at the same time; essentially, they choose to tank a game once in a while and recently some of those tanked games were nationally televised games.  The NBA Commish, Adam Silver, sent a strongly worded note to the owners about this; obviously, the television partners with the NBA are not happy with paying top dollar for games when the stars show up in street clothes.  Using that avenue, Adam Silver will be about as effective as Don Quixote.

I do not even want to get into the discussion about today’s players and their aversion to and inability to participate in back-to-back road games.  That has been a staple of the NBA schedule for as long as I have followed the league (back to the 1950s); and only now, in an era of mega-contracts that are totally guaranteed has this become a physical problem and an injury-avoidance strategy.

Bull cookies !!


NBA players have asserted in the past that their fat contracts are justified because they are entertainers and without them the league would fold.  OK, suppose I give them that position and then ask the following question:

  • If I am a fan of Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band [For the record, I am not.] and I pay in advance a premium price to see them perform, I expect them to show up and perform.  I do not want to go to the concert and see Joe Flabeetz and the Outhouses perform in lieu of Springsteen and Co.

By taking games off, that is what the NBA players are doing to the paying fans.  By taking games off – and announcing it ahead of time – that is what the NBA players are doing to the TV networks who are paying the money that lifts the salary cap for the league allowing the players to suck down their huge contracts.  [Aside: Regular season ratings for NBA games in TV this year are down almost 25% from the comparable time last year.]

This is a management/labor/network issue that needs to be ironed out.  What happened this week is that LeBron James demonstrated a high level of self-absorption saying that this only became an issue for the NBA when he and other of his Cavs’ teammates decided to take time off to rest.

Bull cookies !!


About 5 years ago – before LeBron thought it necessary to take time off during the season – Greg Popovich decided to rest all of his star players in a regular season game and even told them to go home so they would not be in the arena and tempt him to play them in a game.  David Stern went ballistic and fined Popovich $200K as I recall.  So, there is more than ample evidence available to demonstrate that this issue existed long before LeBron James decided to take a night off.

One more NBA note from this week that defies the existence of history…  Earlier this week, Boogie Cousins scored 41 points and took down 17 rebounds in a win by the Pelicans over the Grizzlies.  To read some of the effusive recounts of this game, one might think it was historic.  It was indeed a noteworthy performance by Cousins and one that should heap praise on him.  Nevertheless, here is something the reporters seem to have missed:

  1. In 1965, the Philadelphia 76ers played the Boston Celtics and in one game Wilt Chamberlain scored 44 points and had 43 rebounds – – against Bill Russell no less.
  2. In 1960, Chamberlain had a game with 58 points and 42 rebounds.
  3. In 1961, Chamberlain had a triple OT game where he scored 78 points and had 43 rebounds.

Those were “double-doubles”…

Oh, and for the record, back in the 60s, some teams played more than back-to back games.  Just a glance at the Philadelphia Warriors schedule in 1961 shows the following:

  1. 4 games in 4 nights in 4 cities from Feb 1 1961 to Feb 4 1961.
  2. 4 games in 4 nights in 4 cities from Feb 8 1961 to Feb 11 1961.
  3. Multiple stretches of 3 games in 3 nights and almost as many back-to-back games as “single games” with a day off before and after the game.

Finally, here is a note from Dwight Perry in the Seattle Times:

“The Sacramento Kings blew a 28-point lead in falling to the San Antonio Spurs on Wednesday.

“But there wasn’t a dry eye in sight when they walked into the locker room and saw the pick-me-up bouquet from the Atlanta Falcons sitting there.”

But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………



4 thoughts on “Mental Musings…”

  1. I had rotator cuff surgery three years ago after undergoing PT for several months. My therapist, who holds a PhD in PT, said there is a high correlation between pre-op therapy and successful post-op recovery. Add to that the possibility the pre-op therapy might strengthen the supraspinatus sufficiently to negate the need for surgery. Granted, I am not a 30-year old NFL QB, but my full range of motion and strength in that shoulder did not return for almost a year. And, I was over the top with my therapy regimen.

    1. Doug:

      There are positions in various sports where a rotator cuff injury might not be seriously debilitating – – say a fullback in soccer – – but in a situation where being able to throw a ball is a critical skill, I would think that I would give repair-and-rehab a higher place on my priority list.

      As I said, I hope he recovers and plays well this year. I enjoy watching Cam Newton play…

      1. It also depends on what they mean by “rotator cuff”. Are they referring to the labrum – the cartilage that surrounds the humeral head? Or are they takking about one (or more) of the rotator cuff muscles? The former would require surgery. The latter might be accomoplished through therapy.

        1. John:

          A report said he needed surgery to repair a partial tear of the rotator cuff cartilage. I assume that is what you called the labrum in your comment but I am not a surgeon by any means.

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