Months of glass-half-full wishful thinking end abruptly when a football fan’s favorite team heads to training camp. That’s when the optimism regarding what may go right yields to day-to-day worrying about what can go wrong.
It happens every year. A team’s best-case scenario becomes a worst-case reality with a key injury that changes everything. While that can happen at any point during the season, it begins once the teams gather and practices start.
And the curve ball can come from anywhere, as Bengals fans learned on Tuesday. Out of nowhere, quarterback Joe Burrow had an appendectomy. He’ll miss a week or so of camp as he recovers from the procedure. It ultimately will be a non-issue.
But it’s a reminder that the fickle finger of football fate hovers over every NFL franchise. In one moment, any moment, from late July through January, a team’s fortunes can dramatically change in an instant.
It could have been worse for the Bengals. Burrow will be available for Week One. In 2006, the Steelers lost quarterback Ben Roethlisberger to an emergency appendectomy. His missed the Thursday night, banner-raising opener against Nick Saban and the Dolphins. (The Steelers still won the game, 28-17, with Charlie Batch throwing three touchdown passes.)
The good news for Burrow and nervous Bengals fans is that there won’t be another appendectomy. As Chris Simms said in his first press conference after a splenectomy resulting from in-game battering against the Panthers in the same month Roethlisberger had his appendix removed, “I can’t hurt my spleen again.”