Monday night washed away all of that. Ryan Shazier's frightening spine injury cast a pall over the entire evening -- a pall that was only exacerbated by the headhunting and taunting penalties that followed. The Kevin Everett injury in a Bills game a decade ago was scary enough. Ten years prior, I was locked into the Parcells Jets trying to get a road win against Barry Sanders' Lions when Detroit linebacker Reggie Brown crumpled to the turf.
Who needs to see any of that again? I had looked forward to tweeting during Monday night's game, with the Power Rankings nearly finished and Steelers-Bengals always producing intrigue. After Shazier went down, there remained zero need to provide a "take" the rest of the night. All of which adds an ominous undercurrent to the discussion around Rob Gronkowski's cheap hit that put Tre'Davious White in the concussion protocol. The player-safety rules are there to protect players from opponents -- and sometimes protect players from themselves. But the guys on the field must be as invested in safety as those off of it.
All that said, I thought the Steelers' archrival summed up the collective thoughts of the football community on Monday night quite well:
Well, there's no great way to transition from that into typical Power Rankings banter. Let's just pass out some well-deserved plaudits to one of the true NFL stalwarts of the Y2K era.
Agreed. Frank Gore has been a true professional, a blue-collar player in an era defined by style as much as substance. Now he's one of the five most prolific rushers in NFL history.
Thanks to a new quarterback, Gore's old squad gets a boost in the rankings below. As do the Packers, who are also trotting out a fresh face under center (though not for much longer, it appears). The Giants? Well, they stay in the same lowly slot, beleaguered by QB drama and early house cleaning. Your take on any team is welcome: @HarrisonNFL is the place.
Let the dissension commence!
PROGRAMMING NOTE: For more in-depth analysis on the updated league pecking order, tune in to NFL Network every Tuesday night at 6 p.m. ET for the "NFL Power Rankings" show. Want to add YOUR voice? Provide your thoughts at the bottom of this page or tweet @HarrisonNFL, and your comments could be featured on air.
*Follow Elliot Harrison on Twitter @HarrisonNFL. And be sure to tune in to the "NFL Power Rankings" show on NFL Network every Tuesday night at 6 p.m. ET. *