Week 8 of the NFL saw a slew of high-profile players carted off the field with serious, season-ending injuries. Running backs Le’Veon Bell, Reggie Bush, and Khiry Robinson all suffered injuries, as did Steve Smith, Ricardo Lockette, Cameron Wake, and Keenan Allen.
Earlier this week, former Notre Dame and NFL quarterback Brady Quinn said on the CBS Sports podcast Roughing the Passer that a heightened use of HGH and other performance enhancing drugs among NFL players might explain the onslaught of injuries. He said he believes “40-5o per cent” of players are taking PEDs.
“I’m not accusing anyone,” Quinn said. “But I think the usage of of HGH or performance enhancing drugs or supplements is greater now than it’s ever been because the money is bigger now than it’s ever been and the punishment isn’t really that bad if you think about it.”
Later on, he went into more depth about the monetary incentive of taking these drugs, even with the possibility of suspension:
“If you’re a top-of-the-line guy and you’re getting $US16 million a year — you’re getting a million bucks a game — if you get popped for taking something that helps you get that big-time contract or hit that incentive in your contract where you get paid all of the sudden in your contract year, guess what? First [failed test], four-game [suspension],” Quinn said “Let’s talk about financially, ‘Am I going to sacrifice $US4 million in order for me to get that big contract on the back-end? Yea, I am.'”
And he noted that it’s extremely easy for starting NFL players to skirt drug tests, if they’re tested at all.
“When you’re the starter, you have your annual [test] and you have one surprise [test] or one unknown [test],” Quinn said. “But beyond that, you don’t get tested quite as often. It’s really the backups or older players.”
So, how would HGH actually cause injuries? Quinn explains:
“You could say it’s what they’re taking, supplements and things that they’re putting in their body that are dehydrating their body and making them a little more tight and brittle, those sorts of things. … “Or it could be a matter of over-training in the offseason, not giving their body enough rest and all of the sudden, they try to come into the season and their ligaments and joints and things have so much wear-and-tear and they haven’t received the proper amount of rest and attention they need.”
Now, as Deadspin’s Barry Petchesky notes, it’s unclear if the NFL has really had more injuries this season or if this season the injuries have simply come in larger clusters and to more household names. Similarly, it’s worth wondering if rule changes to protect players from hits to the head have meant players are tackling around the knees and ankles, which could cause more injuries.
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