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Point, counterpoint: Would a 30-day disabled list be a good idea?

Posted Oct 30, 2012

Vic KetchmanPackers.com Editor Vic Ketchman says no.

It’s a great idea, if you like cheating, because that’s what a 30-day disabled list would produce.

Hey, we’ve been down this road before. Back in the ’70s, the NFL instituted a rule that allowed a four-week return from injured reserve. Teams could bring players back to the active roster from IR four times in a season. It was a great rule that allowed teams to patch a hole in their roster without losing the injured player for the season.

The spirit of the rule was all good, but the application of the rule was violated by teams – frankly, it was every team – that used the rule as a means for manipulating and stashing talent. For example, a backup wide receiver with a minor injury that shouldn’t have necessitated a move to IR was sent there because the team temporarily got caught short on the offensive line but didn’t want to IR the injured starter because he’d only be out a game or two. So, they’d sign a lineman for a game or two, then cut him and sign somebody to another position that was a little depleted, and so forth and so on. If they’d need the wide receiver later in the season, they’d use one of their four moves on him.

In effect, the four-week IR rule was a 30-day disabled list, and NFL owners decided the roster, which hovered between 43-47 in those days, was large enough; it didn’t need to add four more roster spots, which is what the four-week rule effectively did.

Today, we have 53 players on the active roster and eight practice-squad players in the locker room that are practicing with the team and learning the team’s playbook. How many players are enough?

The length of training camp has been cut in half, two-a-days are gone and full-pads practices are costume parties compared to the mosh pits of the ’70s. Hasn’t the league done enough to help protect teams and players from injury?

For those of you who would say the league hasn’t done enough, that it needs to provide a disabled list, I would remind you that there is a cost for expanding the roster, and that cost is likely to be passed onto the fan.

Look, if a guy is too good to lose but and not injured badly enough to be lost for the season, then just carry him on your 53, as the Packers are doing with Charles Woodson. Only 46 of those 53 players can play on Sunday, so seven of the 53 are held in reserve, which means those seven are effectively a disabled list, right?

OK, let’s hear the whining and crying side of it now.

Mike SpoffordPackers.com Staff Writer Mike Spofford says yes.

I’m not going to whine and cry, but I do think it would be a good idea.

Mike McCarthy had to cut practices short all last week because of the shortage of players available, and I don’t think it’s a coincidence that the roll the Packers had begun on offense came to a screeching halt against one of the league’s lower-ranked defenses.

This isn’t the ’70s anymore. Teams are much more interested in protecting their multi-million-dollar investments in players long term, and they should have the option of removing an injured player from the roster for a month without having to make an anguishing IR decision or short-change the team in the meantime.

As for the manipulation and stashing of talent that occurred in the past, that was long before the advent of free agency, long before players had a much stronger say in where they play. If a guy isn’t hurt and the team is using a disabled list to stash him, he can use the union to file a grievance. If he’s truly good enough to keep in house, his current team won’t risk alienating him like that and gaining a reputation for jerking players around. That would matter in the free-agency era. Nobody gave a whit in the ’70s because clubs had all the control.

It’s a long season, and teams need to be given reasonable tools to navigate the long grind from a health standpoint. They only played 14 games back in the ’70s, until 1978 anyway, and had one less round of playoffs.

Look, I’m not suggesting the players the Packers could sign to replace the likes of Charles Woodson and Greg Jennings if a 30-day DL were available would be able to make a huge impact and change the season.

But a team would at least be able to carry something closer to a full roster and not have to cut practices short because there aren’t enough players available to conduct a full workout. It goes to the quality of the product on Sundays, and the only ones cheated in the end are the fans.

Cast your vote in the poll on the right, please.

 
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