Chances are, unless you’re a very loyal Saints, Texans, or Orlando Predators fan, you’ve never heard of Austin Brown before seeing the headline of this piece. Brown was a defensive tackled signed yesterday by the Saints after spending a year having success in the Arena Football League. Previously Brown spent time with the Houston Texans during last season’s training camp.
So why am I even mentioning Brown? Is it to mention his underdog chance of making the Saints this season? No, it’s something much less positive, as Brown suffered what appears to be a very serious knee injury during today’s Saints practice.
Brown was anything but a lock to make the Saints squad, but this injury looks to end any chance whatsoever for the young defensive tackle. For a player like Brown, you hate to see such an injury in what was literally his first time out on the field with the Saints. But in many ways Brown’s injury sums up the life of a player trying their damnedest to make an NFL squad. In Brown’s case he wasn’t deemed good enough to catch on with the Texans last year, but went and proved himself in the Arena Football League. That performance paid off as it got him another shot at a cup of coffee in the NFL. Now, those hopes are in jeopardy.
Brown will ultimately end up on injured reserve barring a miracle, or released with an injury settlement. Sure, one can say that there’s “always next year,” but for many players that simply isn’t true. Brown may never get a shot again, through no fault of his own. While I personally hope that’s not the case, there are plenty of teams who would much rather take a shot on a kid a few years younger and without injury history, and it’s hard to blame them for feeling that way when you look at the landscape of the NFL
In a game as physical as football, injuries are a reality every player and team deals with, with perhaps the worst injuries being those that are somewhat fluky in nature (untouched ACL injuries for example). And while we’re lucky enough to have seen the story of Kurt Warner unfold, it’s easy to forget that Trent Green was never quite viewed the same again during his career. Could Trent Green ultimately have been the ringleader of The Greatest Show on Turf, rather than Warner? We’ll never know. Likewise Austin Brown may never be given the chance to become the next great underdog story.
It’s this reason why I can never fault a player for doing everything in their power to get paid. While some holdouts seem ridiculous on the surface, such as Kam Chancellor’s request for a new deal with three years remaining on his old one, there’s really no such thing as ridiculous in a league where careers can end before they ever even begin. If a team doesn’t want to negotiate with a player like Chancellor, that’s certainly their right. But Chancellor also certainly has the right to ask for what he wants. Sometimes two people and two sides disagree for a time, or forever. But that doesn’t make either side dumb when you consider the stakes.