Injuries to star NFL players hurting teams and league’s brand

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Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers injured with a broken collarbone. (Adam Bettcher/Getty Images)

Andrew ElKadi, Contributing Writer

The NFL season is well under way, and the contenders are beginning to separate themselves from the rest of the league. One of the teams that looked like a lock for the playoffs through the first six weeks of the season was the Green Bay Packers, but their postseason plans took a major hit when their star quarterback, Aaron Rodgers, went down with a broken collarbone in the first quarter of a 23-10 loss to the Minnesota Vikings after a hit from linebacker Anthony Barr. In a split second, the entire landscape of the NFC changed.

The loss of Rodgers is monumental for Green Bay, and the 4-2 Packers must now turn to 3rd-year quarterback Brett Hundley to take the reins from perhaps the best quarterback in the NFL. When Rodgers will return from injury is unclear, and the Packers look to be in a dogfight with division rivals Detroit Lions and Minnesota Vikings for the remainder of the season.

Another significant injury happened in MetLife Stadium during the New York Giants’ Week 5 game against the San Diego Chargers, when Odell Beckham Jr.’s season ended after suffering a broken ankle. The Giants were winless at the time and had already been on their way to one of the worst records in the NFL this season, and after losing their star player, their season is effectively down the drain.

J.J. Watt of the Houston Texans fractured his leg during a Sunday Night game against the Kansas City Chiefs in Week 5, and like Odell, he is out for the year. The Texans’ star defensive end is widely considered the best player of his position by his peers and the media, so his loss immensely hurts the Texans team that is hovering around .500 and should be in a tight 4-way battle for the AFC South title and a wildcard spot in the AFC.

These injuries to star players will not only affect their teams but will undoubtedly affect the league and its result as a whole, as Rodgers, Beckham, and Watt are some of the most beloved players in the NFL. For the 2016 NFL season, Beckham, Rodgers, and Watt had the 3rd, 7th, and 15th-highest selling jerseys, respectively, according to BusinessInsider.com. These numbers show just how popular these three players are, so their lengthy absences from the field due to injury are bad news for the NFL; fewer people will watch the games, casual fans will become uninterested, and merchandise sales will be hurting. TV ratings for nationally televised primetime games have been trending downwards for the last couple of seasons, so injuries to star players is the last thing the NFL needs. Very few injuries can be classified as “season changing” in the NFL, but those of Aaron Rodgers, Odell Beckham, and J.J. Watt are just that.

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