Without a doubt, what gives fans the thrill of watching football is the fact that it is such a high-contact sport. Everyone looks forward to that tackle that is going to stop the opposing team from scoring the touchdown. Or that aggressive sack that is going to take down the quarterback, preventing the play entirely.
Football is captivating, but the injuries that go along with the popular game are rarely discussed. Over the years, the NFL has made improvements to its health and safety measures, and even have helmets evaluated by laboratories every year to determine what helmets reduce head impact the most. The fact of the matter is that no matter what precautions are taken to prevent injuries, physical contact happens during the game and even during practices, some of which lead to extensive injuries.
On January 2, 2023, Damar Hamlin, who plays safety for the Buffalo Bills, suffered a cardiac arrest while playing against the Cincinnati Bengals. His collapse, which happened mid-game, led to the cancellation of the Monday Night Football Game, a rare occurrence as football is usually played regardless of the circumstances. This definitely speaks for the progress that the NFL is making toward keeping its players healthy.
To dig in a little more around this issue, the research team at Cheeky Punter has gathered data to determine the number of injuries over the last few years, which football teams are the most injury prone, and the most injured football players.
NFL Injuries Over the Years (2015-2022)
Despite the ongoing enhancement of health and safety procedures, players are continuously exposed to injuries, including concussions, ACL and MCL tears. ACL and MCL tears usually require surgery, and many players that suffer from injuries like these are required to sit out for the remainder of the season, depending on their recovery time. Concussions have many detrimental effects on the body and can cause players to have depression and anxiety or even cause the players to develop cognitive impairment.
Notably, the number of injuries reported has continued to drop from 2015’s staggering number of 494 injuries that season, largely due to the concussion protocol that is set in place now by the NFL. In 2022, there were 204 injuries reported. That’s more than a 50% decrease!
Most Injured NFL Teams
While we would all agree that football is definitely a contact sport, not all teams play the same, and not all teams report the same number of injuries. In fact, the team with the lowest number of injuries has reported 67% fewer injuries than the team with the most injuries.
We reviewed the data on NFL injuries reported by teams for the 2021-2022 season to determine which teams had the most injuries. According to the data we found, the Tennessee Titans had a total of 681 injuries during the 2021-2022 season, placing them at the top of the list as the most injury prone team. The New York Giants follow right after with 638 injuries, and in third place, we see the New England Patriots with 614 injuries reported.
The team with the least injuries during the 2021-2022 season was the Kansas City Chiefs, with 220 injuries reported. In second place, the team with the least amount of injuries was the Philadelphia Eagles, with 236 injuries reported, and the team in third place was the Buffalo Bills, with 237 injuries.
Most Injured NFL Players
When playing for the NFL, players can end up with multiple injuries throughout the course of their NFL career. Many of them even go on to experience the effects of their injuries years after they retire from playing for the NFL.
We reviewed the data from 2015-2022 and determined which players had the most injuries. At the top of the list, with 98 injuries, we see Terron Armstead, an offensive tackle who plays for the Miami Dolphins. His most recent injury happened in 2022 when he strained his pectoral. In second place, we see Jadeveon Clowney, who plays defensive end for the Cleveland Browns with 95 injuries. Recently, in 2022, he suffered from a concussion while playing against the Baltimore Ravens. Finally, in third place, we see Duane Brown, who also has had a total of 95 injuries. Duane Brown plays tackle for the New York Jets.
Injuries in the NFL will continue to happen, as they have since its inception. They are not preventable, despite many improvements in health and safety precautions. The game is physical, and injuries will continue. It’s a known risk that all NFL players are fully aware of. They just hope that it will not happen to them. Unfortunately, the reality is that it’s not a matter of if but when. They just hope that it’s not a sidelining or career-ending injury. All that is left for fans to do is to enjoy the game and hope for fewer injuries each and every season.