Ask any NFL defensive back about the spike in ACL injuries this season. He will attribute it to defenders having to aim lower to make tackles and avoid a suspension for hitting a ball carrier too high.
However, that doesn't explain the injuries to players like Indianapolis Colts wide receiver Reggie Wayne, who was uncovered when he twisted his knee and tore his ACL earlier this season.NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said last week in London that the brand and type of shoes might be contributing to the rash of ACL injuries this season, ESPN.com reported.
Asked about the number of ACL injuries this season, Goodell said the league is targeting shoes -- both the type and the choice relative to the playing surface -- as a possible culprit. (Thanks for the tip, @grantsales.)
Here's what Goodell said, via a partial transcript of the event: "In fact, what we have seen is that most of the ACL injuries are non-contact injuries. We have a Foot and Ankle Committee that looks at shoes and performance. One of the things that we are really focused on [is] ... sometimes we are looking for the best-performing shoe and you are sacrificing something on the safety side.
"The other thing is playing surfaces -- making sure that we have a shoe that is proper for that surface. That is what we are studying."
The increase in ACL injuries has been documented recently by ESPN's research department.
Is Goodell blaming players for the spike in torn ACLs? I don't think so, at least not explicitly. At this point, I think we should interpret his answer as an acknowledgment of the myriad possibilities, and that if there is blame to be assessed, it could deserve to go both ways.
-- Bill Bradley, contributing editor