Devin McCourty on whether owners care about player safety: “Their job is to grow the business”

Baltimore Ravens v New England Patriots
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The two Tua Tagovailoa incidents this week have sparked renewed questions regarding the wisdom of routinely having two teams that played on Sunday turn around and play on Monday.

Obviously, that’s not changing. Amazon has secured the rights to Thursday Night Football for 11 years, at roughly $1 billion per year. And it’s not just the league but the NFL Players Association, which shares the revenue on a roughly 50-50 split.

So, yes, there could be issues when it comes to a player who was injured on a Sunday having enough time to prepare to play on a Thursday. There could be challenges when it comes to cumulative wear and tear of 120 minutes (and, in theory, up to 140 minutes) of game time with only three days off in between. But that doesn’t matter, because the decision has been made that, for most weeks of the season, two teams that played on Sunday will play again on Monday.

Patriots defensive back Devin McCourty was asked earlier today on WEEI whether he believes Commissioner Roger Goodell and the owners care about the health of the players.

I think their job is to grow the business,” McCourty said. “And I would say that’s what they care about most, to grow the business. I don’t think they want to see guys go out there and get hurt every play or anything, but I think their job is to grow the business.”

He’s right. Thursday Night Football grows the business, by peeling one game per week from the cluster of action on Sunday afternoon and making it a big-ticket standalone game.

Caring about player health and safety doesn’t really grow the business. It keeps the business from shrinking. From 1994 through 2009, the league’s Mild Traumatic Brain Injury Committee spent far more time downplaying the concussion problem than solving it, delaying the reckoning for as long as possible. Then, when medical science triggered the reckoning that Congress forced on the game in October 2009, efforts were taken to protect what the league had built, while still finding ways to keep building.

It didn’t deter the proliferation and permanent embrace of short-week football. It did, however, delay the expansion of the season from 16 to 17 games, since it was hard to reconcile health and safety with more exposure to situations that compromise health and safety.

Going forward, the league will keep trying to grow the business. Seventeen will become 18. And it will try to do that while periodically doing whatever needs to be done to neutralize threats to the game arising from health and safety concerns.

That doesn’t mean the league shouldn’t constantly consider taking steps to ensure that players who were injured on Sunday should be kept out of the Thursday night game. That’s a lot to expect from those who are trying to grow the business, however. To get the biggest audience and make the most money, they need to have the best players available to play, in as many games as possible.

22 responses to “Devin McCourty on whether owners care about player safety: “Their job is to grow the business”

  1. Can’t wait for this guy to retire or get releases. Never makes a play, takes bad angles and can’t tackle worth a crap. Never heard so much commentary from somebody who stinks.

  2. “It didn’t deter the proliferation and permanent embrace of short-week football.”
    ————————

    Statistically, Thursday Night Football has the LOWEST injury rate among all NFL games (Sunday, SNF and MNF). And you don’t have a single player complaining about the 10-day rest until the next game. If fact, they all look forward to it. Strange you don’t mention that part.

  3. The players benefit by TNF. If they don’t want to play on Thursday nights then don’t agree to it. Otherwise quit blaming the owners.

  4. Devin is correct. The owners grow the business which puts more money in his pocket in increased cap and revenue sharing.

    His job is to play and be grateful.

  5. McCourty is spot on but he’s missing something. Ultimately, I believe this falls on the players, their union. Not that we needed more evidence, but the NFL (Goodell’s offices) run tv commercials during games on how they’re improving safety, even specific helmet improvements, the commercial break ends then seconds later this type of stuff happens. To some extent the NFL has the players health & safety in mind but no one has it more in mind than the players/union. The NFL (management) needs to administer the protocols, they have the infrastructure, but the protocols should be 100% (effectively) designed by the players union. These are people’s lives we’re dealing with here. The union and players can talk a big game, make comments about using every legal remedy, blah, blah, blah…but it’s the players health & safety on the line here, they’re responsible (more specifically Union management) for drawing the line in the sand, including a strike (imagine the public perception if the players went on strike because Roger wouldn’t put in better health protocols, Roger would be fired in a minute) if necessary. The fact that this was allowed to happen, aside from absolute gross negligence by the NFL, is on the players/Union, no one else. This is ultimately the players and the unions responsibility, stop passing the buck, union/players. McCourty is 100% spot on about the owners motivations, responsibility, but he needs to take his thoughtfulness a step further. The players motivation/responsibility needs to be about protecting one another (just as the owners protect themselves). Players/their Union need to stop being hypocrites. To get the change that is needed, only one party at the negotiating table has the players interests as their top priority. This is on the players, most specifically DeMaurice Smith, the head of the players union. Again, unless there was clear gross negligence (no matter the protocols almost impossible to protect from that), no policy/protocols should ever have been agreed to by Mr. Smith that didn’t 100% protect the players safety as it relates to head trauma (esp after all that’s come out about CTE in the last 10-15 yrs).

  6. Owners could care less about player safety. Tex Schramm once said to former NFLPA president Gene Upshaw “what you don’t understand Gene is we’re the ranchers you guys are the cattle and we can always get more cattle” true in 1987 true 35 years later. If guys get hurt owners will just find others to take their place. Fresh cheaper meat for the slaughterhouse so to say.

  7. footballfan22 says:
    September 30, 2022 at 6:47 pm
    And players job is to commit felonies and crimes and get a slap on the wrist_____________________________________

    99% of players are failing at their jobs then. Facts over feelings.

  8. boozygoose says:
    September 30, 2022 at 6:23 pm
    Devin is correct. The owners grow the business which puts more money in his pocket in increased cap and revenue sharing.

    His job is to play and be grateful.

    114Rate This

    —————–

    That doesn’t mean there aren’t workplace protections in this country for American workers when you have factual knowledge of how to avoid workplace dangers.

    Children used to work 12 hours a day, 7 days a week over 100 years ago, too. Get it? Not everything ini the world is always black and white, and I know who you voted for, too.

    Love Devin, but he artfully danced around the question.

  9. boozygoose says:
    September 30, 2022 at 6:23 pm
    Devin is correct. The owners grow the business which puts more money in his pocket in increased cap and revenue sharing.

    His job is to play and be grateful.

    114Rate This

    —————–

    That doesn’t mean there aren’t workplace protections in this country for American workers when you have factual knowledge of how to avoid workplace dangers.

    Children used to work 12 hours a day, 7 days a week over 100 years ago, too. Get it? Not everything ini the world is always black and white, and I know who you voted for, too.

    Love Devin, but he artfully danced around the question.

    01Rate This
    —————-

    There are workplace protections in this country which are governed by OSHA. Was there an OSHA violation? Nope. Actually, the NFL has far more safeguards than OSHA requires. Try working in construction, the military, police or fire dept. There isn’t an independent neurologist hanging out waiting.

    As for the other dribble about child labor laws and voting, what does any of that have to do with the article at hand?

  10. touchback6 says:
    September 30, 2022 at 7:29 pm

    That doesn’t mean there aren’t workplace protections in this country for American workers when you have factual knowledge of how to avoid workplace dangers.

    Children used to work 12 hours a day, 7 days a week over 100 years ago, too. Get it? Not everything ini the world is always black and white, and I know who you voted for, too.

    11Rate This

    If there is “factual knowledge of how to avoid workplace dangers” that you are aware of, Tua is too. He could have stayed out or, if he were really concerned about workplace dangers, chosen another career. I’m a super pale guy so I gave up my dream of being a Hawaiin Tropic California beach lifeguard. Life is about choices.

    As for voting, why must everything be reduced to politics but frankly, jokes on you. I haven’t voted in at least a decade. I have nothing but contempt for politicians of all stripes. If you want me to vote, put term and age limits on a ballot.

  11. Having star players suffer massive head injuries will not grow the game long term. Boxing was once king of the hill in this country until corruption ( and there seems to be plenty of that amongst owners) and people seeing the affects of repeated head trauma making stars like Ali shells of themselves have taken a massive toll. The same could happen for the NFL. Plus half of the owners don’t have a job. They just inherited a golden goose and think they are geniuses.

  12. Why do you constantly criticize NFL owners for trying to make a buck? You kept recycling the same “Buy Playmakers” post over and over and over trying to make money for yourself, but that’s ok because your not a billionaire yet? I suppose being a multi-millionaire makes you feel like a common man. Why don’t you stop trying to tear down the sport which you make a living off of?

  13. There are fewer team owners in total than the number of players on one team. Most owners are either multimillionaires or billionaires.
    It’s pointless to blame the players for not standing united against being exploited or taking strong action to protect their health. With about 1,700 active players, it’s hard to get everyone in the NFLPA on board and present a united front to ownership. The owners brought in scab players already to break the union. Owners can financially out wait the players in any showdown. They make millions from businesses aside from their team ownership. Not every NFL is a Brady, Rodgers, Wilson, or other high earner. Can you afford to go six months or a year without a paycheck?
    I’m sure all the frat-boy, keyboard QBs will chime in about how cushy it is to play in the NFL and how overpaid they are, blah-blah-blah.

  14. It would be tricky but why not only have teams on Thu night coming out of a bye week. Player’s union should strike over this. No way real football should be played on 4 day’s rest.

  15. touchback6 says:
    September 30, 2022 at 7:29 pm
    I haven’t voted in at least a decade.
    ———————————–

    That would not be a surprise to anyone.

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