David said his company has done consulting for the NFL Players Association in the past and received the data for this study from the union, but wasn’t paid by it.
The study says there were 1,095 instances of injuries sidelining a player for eight or more days in 2009 — including practices and games in the preseason, regular season and postseason — and that climbed to 1,272 in 2010, 1,380 in 2011, and 1,496 in 2012. That’s an increase of 37 percent.
“The way I look at it, really, is that injuries are part of the game,” said cornerback Kyle Wilson of the New York Jets, who lost another cornerback, Aaron Berry, for the season when he tore a knee ligament on the first day of practice last week.
“Injuries happen sometimes. They’re unfortunate, but it really is just part of the game.”
Concussions have become a far-more-noticed part of football in recent years, with more discussion of the links between head injuries and brain disease, hundreds of lawsuits brought by thousands of former players, and rules changes made by the NFL to try to better protect players.
During the nine years examined in David’s study, the average number of days missed because of head injuries by players in the league went from 4.8 in 2004, four in 2005, and 4.1 in 2006, to 10.9 in 2010, 12 in 2011, and 16 last season.
“We have experts at practice every day to let you know, as a coach, if someone does have a concussion, so that makes it pretty easy. They leave it out of our hands; they put in the experts’ hands,” Redskins coach Mike Shanahan said. “But, yeah, I think there’s more awareness in a lot of different areas when it comes to injuries over the last few years, and rightfully so.”
David said “you now have more severe injuries overall” because of the hike in lengthy absences for reported concussions.