Are OTA’s Really Worth Having?
As much as I love football and spend many Sundays consuming wings, pizza and beer like I bought stock in Buffalo Wild Wings, we all have to acknowledge that the NFL is a business. Teams spend millions on NFL players only to watch them go down from a “Non-contact” injury. Consumers like us spend hard earned dollars on tickets, parking, food and game day gear at stadiums. So to lose key players so early it naturally draws the question-is it really a good idea to hold OTA’s?
Basically OTA’s or Organized Team Activities (aka Opportunity to Tear ACL) consist of three phases: the first two are supposed to be pretty light. In the first phase, coaches aren’t around (they’re home driving their families crazy) and it’s really supposed to focus on strength and conditioning because in the off season a lot of guys decide cheesesteaks are considered vegetables. The only football allowed on the field at this point is during QB/WR skeletons with no defenders. Second phase brings in the coaches and there’s supposed to be “no contact” or even helmets. The third phase varies form team to team. But even after this is done you still have voluntary and mandatory mini-camps.
Think about the players who have had injuries in OTA’s: Cowboys Linebacker Sean Lee, Giants Linebacker Jon Beason (who dodged a bullet with his injury) and Wide Receiver Domenik Hixon, Falcons Linebacker Sean Weatherspoon and the list continues. So the reasoning could be “No real high profile players have been hurt yet” and maybe that’s true but let’s analyze the chain reaction of the “lower profile injuries”. If you lose a starter you have to start backups.
If you start backups you lose experience. You lose experience that side of the ball loses the possession battle. Enough of those losses turn up in your record of wins and losses. What’s the difference between 10-6 and 8-8? A few too many injuries, a few players getting cut and your head coach’s job.
One of these years we are going to have a franchise player go down in OTA’s for the season. What if one of them is YOUR team’s starting QB or WR? What if the NFL Golden Boy Tom Brady tears his ACL on a drop back? Will that be the time Goodell finally considers throwing out this needless practice session? With each major injury, GM’s have to go out and find other guys to fill these positions. Yes, the NFL is lucrative but do you know what these owners like more than football? Money. They’re going to get tired of renting players to sub for guys who get injured in the pre-pre-pre-preseason.
As we stated earlier, this is a business. If someone bought you tickets to your favorite artists and when you arrived you found out their baby cousin from their mother’s side is performing instead because you favorite artist hurt themselves trying to ride a skateboard, how angry would you be? Your first question would be “What the hell were they doing on a skateboard?” and “Who is this clown on stage?”
That’s how we feel when starters get hurt during OTA’s. Seriously, no one wants to see Dan Orlovsky throw to Kris Durham-not even their mothers (no offense to the Durham’s or Orlovsky’s). If that happened in Detroit, that franchise would suffer immensely. And honestly, the NFL on TV is becoming one of the best products out there. It’s getting harder and harder to justify buying tickets to games now. Let’s not even talk about PSL’s.
The more you analyze this, the more it becomes evident-OTA’s are bad for players, bad for fans and bad for business.
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