The short answer is: Of course they are! I get that we don’t want to hear excuses coming from NFL, NBA or MLB players, coaches and the teams themselves. However, they should be discussed in the barroom debates that are housed on ESPN and elsewhere.
I disagree with those who say injuries are not an excuse at all, and criticize players and coaches for not getting it done with backups. Criticism may prove to be fair, but only after proper attention and analysis as to how the backups affect the play on the field.
Just because every team may suffer from injuries doesn’t mitigate their potential impact and create a new advantage for one side over the other. Sports shows spend an incomprehensible amount of time analyzing players at every position to project how a team will do in an upcoming season. Further, they will do so on a game-by-game basis to determine which team in a given game will have an advantage. When some of those players are injured, you can’t just gloss over it without an analysis of who is replacing them, the BACKUPS.
A funny aside is, generally, a talking head will allow for injuries to be somewhat of an excuse if said talking head likes the player. I.e. if ESPN’s Skip Bayless is talking about Chicago Bear Quarterback Jay Cutler, or the retired Brett Farve. But if said talking head doesn’t like the player then its: “well every team has injuries, you can’t use that an as excuse.”
Much was made about the 2011/2012 New York Giants being a seven and seven team that just got hot and won a super bowl. Some commented that they were healthier than their competition. Few if any commented on how decimated by injuries they were when they got to the seven and seven point. This wasn’t an average team that miraculously just started playing better, (as many suggested). It’s just amazing how health matters.
Occasionally you’ll get your Green Bay Packer teams of 2010/2011 that win the super bowl in spite of injuries. But that is the exception, not the rule.
Team sports are just that, TEAM. When one member of the system goes down it can affect the whole, especially depending on the quality of the backup. It’s the whole knee bone is connected to the thighbone thing.
So when evaluating teams, players and coaches it is fair to evaluate health, injuries, and quality of backups when rendering final grades on performance, and who should, or did win. With so much riding on the line for the winners, the losers, and the legacy of the players and coaches, it’s the least the twenty-four sports networks can do.