As has been the custom this season, when the first of a month rolls around, I look at the cumulative numbers associated with MLB’s Injured List. The season began on April 1st and has been ongoing for 5 months; here are some data:
- 756 players have spent time on the Injured List
- 445 of those players are pitchers
- Those players spent a total of 38,691 days on the Injured List
- Those players collected a total of $688,245,968 while on the Injured List.
- Four players – – Mike Trout, Chris Sale, Stephen Strasburg and Justin Verlander – – have earned more than $20M each while on the Injured List.
Earlier this week, I said that the NFL had proposed to the NFLPA that COVID-19 vaccinations be made mandatory. I also said I could not see the union agreeing to that proposal and with the start of the season fast approaching, there was a need for clarity on such a question of eligibility for players. The league and the union have come to an agreement on the testing elements of a COVID-19 protocol for the 2021 season:
- Vaccinated players will be tested weekly – that is an accelerated testing schedule as compared to the biweekly tests administered to vaccinated players during training camp.
- Vaccinated players are exempt from contact-tracing quarantines
- Unvaccinated players will be tested daily.
- Unvaccinated players are subject to five-day contact-tracing quarantine if they are identified as “high-risk close contacts” of someone who tested positive.
These protocols apply to coaches and team staff members as well as players.
Moving on… I am beginning to believe that someone somewhere has a Voodoo doll in the likeness of Carson Wentz. Let me give you a thumbnail sketch of his NFL career:
- He was having a great year – attracting comments that he might be the MVP – until he tore up his knee in December. Nick Foles replaced him and led the team to a Super Bowl victory.
- His game fell apart in 2020; he was benched; reports say he and his coach were not even speaking; the coach was fired, and Wentz was traded.
- On the first day of training camp with his new team, Wentz injured his foot. The team did not know if he would be out 5 weeks or 12 weeks; maybe surgery was needed and maybe not…
- Wentz recovered and resumed practice and looked to be the starting QB for the Colts next week in Week 1.
- Early this week Carson Wentz was put on the 5-day quarantine list because of high-risk close contacts with someone who tested positive for COVID-19.
Speaking about surprising events related to an NFL QB, the Patriots released Cam Newton. As a veteran, that release immediately makes him a free agent; he need not clear waivers before negotiating for a new position. However, as someone who gives every indication that he is not vaccinated, he would have to wait for a 5-day period before he joined his new club once he signs on. I look at this situation in three ways:
- Mac Jones may have legitimately beaten out Newton for the starting job in the eyes of Coach Belichick. He is the coach with about 3 lbs. of Super Bowl rings, not I. But did Jarrett Stidham beat out Newton for the back-up job too?
- Newton had to miss 5 days of training camp over a “misunderstood rule” regarding COVID-19 protocols. Is that the entire story there? Did those 5 days provide Jones and Stidham the time needed to earn their ascendence past Newton? [Aside: This does not smell like a “cap cut”. Newton got a $2M bonus to sign back in the offseason and only has $1.5M guaranteed for 2021. That is not a significant cap burden.]
- The Cowboys have Dak Prescott and Cooper Rush on their roster as QBs this morning. Prescott has not played at all this year after a severe injury last year. Cooper Rush is – well – Cooper Rush. If the Cowboys do not make a serious run at Cam Newton, I will be shocked.
The Houston Texans still have Deshaun Watson on their roster for 2021. Watson has “demanded” a trade; he said he would not play for the Texans again; he is also the subject of a criminal investigation for sexual assault and the defendant in 22 civil actions alleging sexual assault. He has not been part of any OTAs or minicamps, but he has reported to training camp and has done some on-field drills. I guess he is still the Texans’ starting QB based on demonstrated on-field ability over Tyrod Taylor, Davis Mills and Ryan Finley. At the same time, I cannot imagine that the league will allow him to play given the extent of his legal issues at the moment particularly considering the social focus on sexual assault today.
It seems to me that the Texans and the NFL Front Office are playing “Alphonse and Gaston” with Watson’s situation each seemingly waiting on the other to announce some sort of suspension that would clarify when, if and how Watson might be eligible to play again in the NFL – for the Texans or anyone else. The NFL season starts a week from tomorrow; the Texans open on September 12 against the Jags. Here is what I was able to find regarding the NFL Personal Conduct Policy that appears to be applicable here. A player may be put on paid leave if charged with a felony or:
“… a crime of violence … of having engaged in sexual assault by force or against a person who was incapable of giving consent. The formal charges may be in the form of an indictment by a grand jury, the filing of charges by a prosecutor or an arraignment in a criminal court.”
Reports say that there is a grand jury in Texas reviewing evidence regarding 10 folks who have filed criminal complaints against Watson. The start of the NFL season has great importance to the NFL and to the Houston Texans – – but I doubt that the grand jury members or the prosecutors presenting to that grand jury give any great significance to that impending date.
Finally, I shall close today with an observation by the novelist, Joseph Heller:
“Success and failure are both difficult to endure. Along with success come drugs, divorce, fornication, bullying, travel, medication, depression, neurosis and suicide. With failure comes failure.”
But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………