The Cincinnati Bengals have had the injury bug all year long, including season-ending injuries to Tyler Eifert and then Vontaze Burfict. Marvin Jones also missed the entire 2014 season.
The mass of hurt players and lost playing time has understandably put a great deal of attention and pressure on the Bengals’ medical staff. Recently, head certified Athletic Trainer Paul Sparling did a conference call with ESPN’s Cole Harvey, where the two discussed several of the health issues this season, and potential causes for the increased volume of injuries, specifically to the starting receivers and linebackers.
Below is the transcribed conversation.
“Paul, first off, I appreciate you joining me this afternoon. The Bengals’ season was a very up-and-down one, with big wins and, likewise, big losses. A lot of what kept Cincinnati from potentially clinching the AFC North title and also from getting over the payoff hump has been the health of their players. Would you tend to agree?”
“Cole, thank you for having me today. Yes, we had high hopes for this season with all of the talent on this team. Health, unfortunately, certainly played a key role in preventing us from reaching our preseason goals.”
“What can you tell us about the conditioning of the team as a whole? Is this an issue that could stem from the lack of physical work these players are doing outside of games, or should we be looking elsewhere?”
“Well, I can tell you that the physical exercise shouldn’t be the issue. The players get lots of gym time.”
“Are you aware of the type of conditioning the players focus on in their workouts?”
“Conditioning as in weights?”
“Conditioning as in cardio,” Harvey clarified.
“Oh, they don’t do that. I work with the conditioning team very closely. We’ve come to the decision that the players get enough cardio on the field and in-game. They shouldn’t need anymore.”
At this point, Harvey paused. “So you mean to say that the entire time between games, the players aren’t working on cardio? What about stretches and flexibility work?”
“Well, it’s generally believed that too much cardio has a negative impact. If you run too much, everyone knows that you begin to lose leg and core strength. The adverse effects aren’t friendly. And as far as flexibility work goes, that’s the number one thing we preach for our players not to do. Studies done have shown that flexibility exercises prior to working out is the easiest way to strain a muscle if done incorrectly. So we choose not to do them at all. It’s all about minimizing risk with our professional staff.”
Harvey looked visibly concerned from the video accompanying the conference call. “That’s a…rather interesting take on how a team works out, I guess. Out of personal curiosity, what studies would these be, Paul?”
“Oh, there is a variety of studies reported directly on Wikipedia that support the claims. Many, many independent doctors from community colleges.”
“You mean professors at the colleges?”
“That I’m not sure of. I didn’t look into it.”
“I see. Well…um, I guess we’ll keep moving on with the topics I was hoping to discuss. You’ve stated conditioning doesn’t seem to…be a problem [albeit with a doubtful look from the audio]. What can you tell us about Vontaze Burfict. During the season, we heard many different things. First, it was a concussion, then he had knee injuries that he was projected to come back from against the Saints. The time-scale kept lengthening until it was finally just announced that he would be out for the season.”
“Well, Vontaze is a special case, Cole. We had to treat him, as you said, for both head and knee injuries. The reason he ended up missing all of the season d because we didn’t actually know for sure what the problem was. I was diagnosing him for a concussion in Week 13, when [Marvin] Lewis came in and told me that I needed to be regularly checking on his knee. That was the first I heard of a knee injury. I know he had surgery, but I really don’t know the extent of it.”
“Ah. Certainly, he’ll be ready for next season, though?”
“Well, like I said, I still don’t know the extent of the injury. But I can say with absoluteness that he’ll be a full-go for the 2016 season.”
“Right. Okay then. Moving onto the injuries that caused Marvin Jones and Tyler Eifert to miss the year – Jones was first believed to have a much shorter recovery time than the full season, and it was initially thought that Eifert would miss between eight and ten games. What happened to change these respective situations?”
“That’s a very solid point, Cole. The discrepancy between the expected time and the real recovery time was because of a few reasons. To start with Eifert, we weren’t sure for a long time whether it was an elbow injury or a shoulder injury. It turned out to be both. Thankfully, he underwent surgery on his shoulder and not his elbow, which we were initially going to do. You simply can never tell with those dislocations sometimes. And with Jones, it was actually a funny little mix-up [laughs]. You see, our surgeon accidentally operated on the wrong foot.”
After a slight pause, Sparling had to speak up to make sure Harvey was still on the other line, to which the Bengals ESPN writer responded with a grimace.
“Unfortunately, yes, I’m still here. I’m almost afraid to ask, but I do have one more question, Paul. A.J. Green is the star receiver for the Bengals, but he’s been hampered by smaller injuries all year, including a strained ligament in his foot. Do you believe that his foot was the main cause for a decrease in playing time in 2014 or are there other issues that we don’t know about?”
“Wait a minute, A.J. was injured this year?”
“I think we’re done here.”
*Disclaimer: the statements reported in this article are created purely for the humor of our audience and do not in any way reflect the spoken words or thoughts of professional athletes, coaches, or media.