With the recent hit to Gronkowski’s knee, a lot of people (me), have been wondering how much the head-to-head rules are affecting ACL injuries in the NFL. This link above does a pretty good job of detailing the current injury statistics. Two things I’ve learned in trying to research this topic.
1. Its incredibly hard to find injury data from the NFL. Probably due to the concussion scandal and what not, I think they keep injury data under lock and key. So as an independent researcher it’s been hard for me to say definitively if the head hunting rules are the direct cause of these injuries. Even if these rules weren’t in place, I find it hard to believe any defensive back would try to take a shot at Gronk’s upper body. That’s as futile as shooting at Superman with a regular gun; he just keeps coming. So I’m not sure if Ward would have done anything differently even if he could have shot for Gronk’s head.
2. Most shocking of all. 70-75% of all ACL tears in the NFL are not due to contact. I bet a lot of people who have been watching the NFL think that most ACL tears come from hits like what happened to Gronk. In reality these hits are pretty rare, so its hard to fault the NFL for their head-to-head rules if these injuries are not common occurrences. I’m sure we’ll know more after the season is over, as the NFL keeps an eye on injury prevalence and what not, but for now the ACL injuries due to low shots remain an enigma.
P.S. I think my photoshop skills are blossoming. Soon I’ll be able to open my own digital store and sell my masterpieces for thousands.