The Twitter discussion yesterday between Thurman Thomas and Matthew Barnaby (with Mike Commodore’s 2 cents) got me thinking on this: who really IS tougher, an average hockey player or football player? Let’s think.
- Activity Level: Both have ’60 minute’ games. Football players take half of the game off, though, with the offense sitting down while the defense is on the field and vice versa. However, there are more hockey players playing in each game, so the actual time on the field favors football. Football loses this for me, though, in that even when you ARE on the field, there’s 10-15 seconds of activity, and then 30 seconds of huddle. Slight Advantage to hockey.
- Violence: I think Thurman was underestimating this. His crack about hockey players losing teeth versus football players getting concussions is silly. Ask Eric Lindros, or even Chris Drury and RJ Umberger about concussions in hockey. Have to give a slight edge to football here though, as there are potentially dangerous hits most every play, with big linemen landing on you, rolling your ankles, getting knees buckled, horse-collar tackles, and so forth. And I’m not putting hockey over the top by throwing fighting in the mix, as it’s fairly rare nowadays, and for the most part only done by a select group regularly (keeping kickers and punters out of this for the same reason). Slight advantage to football.
- Longevity: This one’s a wash, to my mind. I’ve seen the 5 year average career number for NHL players (including Commodore mentioning it), while anywhere from 3.5 years to 4.6 years for NFL players. I believe the NHL number is slightly higher because a borderline player can bounce between the NHL and AHL (or Europe) a few times. Someone like Cody McCormick, who has been going back and forth between various AHL teams and the NHL doesn’t happen much in the NFL. Also, to refute something Thurman said, tears (of ligaments etc.) are the most common injury in the NFL, while concussions are possible in both. Even.
So what’s my verdict? Guys, you are BOTH super-tough. I got the feeling this was all in good-natured fun, but I think this would be a great opportunity for ESPN or Versus to have a ‘Shaq VS.’ type show with these guys. Picture it: Barnaby and other recent NHL retirees have to play running back and absorb hits from former NFL linebackers (Junior Seau and Tedy Bruschi aren’t busy, are they?), and Thurman and some friends have to act as defensemen while Al MacInnis, Jeremy Roenick or other former NHLers fire shots on net. Show ‘em just the sort of toughness hockey requires, since it’s not all about hitting somebody or fighting.