OPENING HIT: The following is a subject that will likely cause great debate. I can tell you some NFL players will react almost violently to it.
Later Thursday morning the NFL will release information from a study that shows there's been a dramatic shift in the length of careers of NFL players. I've gotten a copy of the information and if the numbers are accurate they show NFL players have twice the length of careers as previously thought.
Now this is sure to cause many veteran players pause. They are likely not to believe the numbers. Indeed some players I contacted expressed doubt the statistics were accurate.
But again, if they are, this is pretty remarkable news.
Here is a portion of what the NFL says: "Based on statistical analysis by NFL Management Council and AonHewitt, the 206 drafted rookies who began their careers on NFL 53-man rosters this past weekend will have an average NFL career length of nearly seven years (6.86). Including the 60 undrafted rookies on Kickoff Weekend 2011 rosters – the most since 65 in 2003 -- the expected average career length of a 2011 rookie still exceeds six years (6.36)."
It was previsouly believed the avereage career length was around threee years. So the NFL is saying a new analysis shows that a decades-long belief is incorrect. The NFL said something similar during the lockout and it caused some union members' heads to explode. Now the NFL is claiming to offer concrete proof that today's players will have careers a lot longer than players in years past.
Which is pretty interesting.
The release from the NFL continues: "NFL Management Council calculated average expected NFL career length using statistics from its prior study on career expectancy for players entering the league between 1993 and 2002. 120 of the players entering the league during that time period earned spots on 2011 Kickoff Weekend rosters.
The average current experience listed on 2011 opening-day rosters is 4.3 years. However, this number does not represent average expected career length."
Again, if true, this all fairly stunning. It will be interesting to see how players react as this news becomes public.
This information could represent the fact that the league's increased safety measures for its players -- better protection for concused players, less physical contact during drills, the new kickoff rules which decrease violent collisions -- will help lengthen careers.
So fairly remarkable stuff, yes. But think about it even if the average career length doubles for NFL players to almost seven years that's still only seven years. That's not a whole lot, is it? That demonstrates the fragility of even these players who are the toughest and greatest athletes in the world.
Nonetheless this could still be good news for today's NFL player.