So, here we are at Week 4, roughly the quarter mark of the NFL season and the first round of bye weeks. Bye weeks were introduced to the NFL schedule in 1990 as a way of extending the regular season, and teams use the time to make roster changes, occasionally fire a coach or two, and, most importantly, heal up. The downtime gives the players a chance to get better.
And just how are those NFL players holding up? We've had three-plus weeks of football now—how is everyone feeling in this still-early season?
Well, according to NFL injury reports, the answer is not great. Not so hot. To date, 490 players have been listed as injured in one way or another on weekly injury reports. Four hundred ninety! Through just three full weeks of playing football! And there are an additional 120 players on injured reserve or the Physically Unable to Perform (PUP) list.
My God, it's a bloodbath out there.
Interestingly, though 610 players have already been injured enough to put their playing status in doubt (or worse), there have been only 13 reported concussions. In a sport where superhuman athletes spend literally the entire game crashing their heads together, 13 concussions seems like a surprising and perhaps encouraging number. Maybe that Heads Up campaign really is working!
Not likely. As has long been established, NFL players are reluctant to report concussions for a variety of reasons, including wanting to avoid letting down their team and fear of losing their roster spot. And the NFL's concussion protocol hasn't necessary made things better—as LeSean McCoy demonstrated in Week 3, a combination of determination on the part of the player and incompetence on the sideline can get even a player who has shown very obvious signs of having sustained a traumatic brain injury back in the game.
McCoy was never diagnosed with a concussion, despite being dazed enough by helmet-to-helmet contact that he was helped from the field. Good protocols, NFL! Job well done.
And let's not forget brain damage and CTE are both significantly linked with subconcussive hits—you know, the kind of low-grade head collisions that take place in the trenches of every single play in an NFL football game. It could even be said with a straight face that football is the competitive act of delivering permanent brain damage. And something about a ball.
That seems like a pretty good reason to, you know, watch something else.
1 p.m. — beIN Sports — La Liga Soccer: Valencia vs. Real Sociedad
Valencia are generally a lot of fun to watch, and they're currently sitting third in La Liga. And Real Sociedad are from San Sebastian, which is simply the most wonderful place in the world.
1:30 p.m. — TBS — Baseball: Yankees @ Red Sox
The rubber match of a meaningless weekend series between two teams with nothing to play for. God, that feels so good to type.
2 p.m. — WGN — Baseball: Cubs @ Brewers
The Brewers were eliminated from playoff contention this week and are playing out the string on an enormously disappointing season. And the Cubs, well, the Cubs are the Cubs.
3 p.m. — beIN Sports — La Liga Soccer: Córdoba vs. Espanyol
Sometimes ignoring the NFL means watching the worst team in La Liga take on a mid-table mainstay in a game that, at best, will someday have relegation implications.
8:30 p.m. — ESPN2 — MLS Soccer: Red Bulls @ Galaxy
If you're watching soccer on Sunday, this will almost certainly be the most entertaining match of the day. MLS!
1 p.m. — USA Network — Law & Order: Special Victims Unit
A marathon of SVU will cover you all the way into the Sunday night national broadcast.
2 p.m. — BBC America — Top Gear
This block—from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m.—is something called Top Gear: Cars of the People. Give it a try.
4 p.m. — FXX — The Simpsons
The regular Sunday mini-marathon will cover you all the way through the late afternoon games.
5 p.m. — AMC — Breaking Bad
The usual Sunday Breaking Bad evening marathon on AMC. Heck yeah.
6:15 p.m. — TV Land — The Cosby Show
Three hours of The Cosby Show covering the end of the late afternoon games and the start of the Sunday nighter.
6:20 p.m. — Comedy Central — South Park
Binge watch South Park to cover you for the last part of the late-afternoon games.
11 a.m. — Centric — New Jack City
Chris Rock as a spastic crackhead, Judd Nelson mailing in a performance on the extreme downslope of his career, and evil Wesley Snipes. Well worth a watch.
Noon — AMC — Ghostbusters
AMC breaking out the big guns! Woo hoo!
Noon — Comedy Central — Semi-Pro
This goofy Will Ferrell vehicle is throwaway crap, but it's occasionally funny throwaway crap.
Noon — A&E — Face/Off
1 p.m. — Audience Network — Nell
"UNATAAAAAAY..... 'N MAAAAAAAAAAAAY..." God this movie is embarrassing. Jodie Foster's excruciating performance has to be seen to be believed.
1:30 p.m. — Spike TV — Wrath of the Titans
This is one sillier-than-shit movie, but the Kronos battle sequence is pretty spectacular.
2 p.m. — TCM — Bus Stop
Marilyn Monroe is irresistible as a cafe singer with dreams of making it big.
2 p.m. — CMT — Kindergarten Cop
"IT'S NOT A TUMAH!!" Hell yeah, CMT.
2:30 p.m. — AMC — Ghostbusters II
AMC follows up Ghostbusters with Ghostbusters II. This is brilliant counterprogramming.
3:15 p.m. — A&E — Gladiator
Gladiator is making a run at A League of Their Own and Shawshank Redemption for most-scheduled Sunday movie.
3:30 p.m. — TNT — I Am Legend
The key to enjoying this movie is just forgetting that it has anything to do with the book. On its own terms, it's not half bad.
4:15 p.m. — Comedy Central — Happy Gilmore
So, Richard Kiel died this month. Who is Richard Kiel?
GAH! RUN, SHOOTER!
4:30 p.m. — Ovation — Dirty Rotten Scoundrels
Michael Caine and Steve Martin as conmen going head-to-head in a ridiculous turf war. Good times.
4:30 p.m. — Centric — Above the Rim
Tupac was pretty not-half-bad in this movie. And it's got some good basketball sequences. Check it out.
5 pm — CMT — Road House
Speaking of permanent brain damage ...
5 p.m. — Esquire Network — Casino Royale
I really do think this is the best of the Daniel Craig Bond flicks.
5:30 p.m. — TNT — 300
Yes, it's insulting and preposterous and even offensive. But enough about the NFL.
6 p.m. — TVGN — You've Got Mail
Woof. A last resort. Dave Chappelle has a few small moments in this one.
6 p.m. — ABC Family — Dirty Dancing
No one you'd want to know will think any less of you for watching the shit out of Dirty Dancing on a lazy Sunday evening.
6:15 p.m. — MTV — Bad Boys
Martin Lawrence is funny as hell in an otherwise ridiculous movie.
6:30 p.m. — E! — Ocean's Eleven
This is a terrific movie, and it holds up on television.
7 p.m. — FX — Snow White and the Huntsman
This, on the other hand, is a complete piece of shit, and the big assault on the evil queen's castle is perhaps the most spectacularly unsuccessful bit of filmmaking in the history of cinema. And then Charlize Theron has to deliver the line "You cannot defeat me!!" and you can almost see the light in her eyes dimming forever.
8 p.m. — Comedy Central — Superbad
A fantastic distraction from the Sunday night game.
8 p.m. — BBC America — Hook
This movie is worth watching just for the scenes of Dustin Hoffman and Bob Hoskins tearing it up as Captain Hook and Smee.
8 p.m. — CLOO — The Prestige
Oh man. Ohhhhhhhh man. Interstellar hits theaters in 39 days. Get pumped by watching this Christopher Nolan masterpiece.
8 p.m. — IFC — Jaws
That's good hustle, IFC. A great choice to cover the Sunday night game.
And, if none of this appeals to you, hey, go enjoy the early autumn weather. Take a hike. Go for a picnic. Four weeks down!