Davin Joseph won't play Sunday when his Tampa Bay Buccaneers open their 2012 season against the Carolinas. In fact, the gregarious guard on Bob Stoops' 2002-05 Sooner teams won't play at all this season.
Joseph suffered a torn patellar tendon in an Aug. 24 exhibition game and underwent knee surgery.
Joseph was sacrificed in the name of money and outdated tradition.
The NFL season kicks off Wednesday night with Cowboys-Giants, and it can't get here soon enough. Not just because pro football is the greatest show on turf or surf, but because it means no more exhibitions.
NFL football is America's greatest sport. NFL exhibitions are America's worst. And unlike baseball spring training or even NBA preseason games, NFL exhibitions aren't harmless. They are dangerous and should be eliminated.
Not reduced. Eliminated. Exhibition football is a flawed concept.
The gridiron is a brutal stage. Injuries are going to happen. Better equipment, enlightened rules and advanced training methods all make the game safer. But you can't make it safe.
So why is the NFL putting its players at risk for no good reason? Why is the NFL playing games that don't matter? Games that neither fans nor veteran players care about? Games that matter to rookies and newcomers only because it's a chance to prove themselves to coaches, a chance that sans exhibitions would move to practice, where there is much more control over the conditions?
Every year, some NFL players lose at least a year off their already-short careers with exhibition-game injuries. Among the victims in 2012: Arizona offensive tackle Levi Brown, Chicago safety Brandon Hardin, Cincinnati guard Travelle Wharton, Houston linebacker Darryl Sharpton and New Orleans linebacker Chris Chamberlain, the pride of Bethany. Then I stopped looking, because I was getting depressed.
And that's not even counting the dozens of players injured less severely, including Michael Vick, Ryan Mathews, Trent Richardson, Brandon Jacobs, Ahmad Bradshaw, Benjarvus Green-Ellis, Brandon Meriweather, Brian Orakpo and Prince Amukamara.
Asking NFL players to take the field for exhibition games is like firing real bullets during military maneuvers. Like using real people in test crashes for new cars. Like sparring without headgear.
It's madness, and it will eventually stop. The NFL will scrap exhibitions. The question is when.
Clearly they are not needed for football purposes. College football proves that. College squads, with far less practice time, put out a fine product on opening day.
Pro coaches who want intersquad competition can conduct practices with other teams, as is done now.
The owners will have to swallow hard. They now get premium ticket prices for two meaningless games. That will be lost revenue, but it will be lost in an industry awash in money. Progressive owners will see the benefit of protecting their players.
Players have sacrificed enough in the name of meaningless games. Now it's time for the owners to do the same.
Berry Tramel: Berry can be reached at (405) 760-8080 or at firstname.lastname@example.org. He can be heard Monday through Friday from 4:40-5:20 p.m. on The Sports Animal radio network, including FM-98.1. You can also view his personality page at newsok.com/berrytramel.