49ers tight end George Kittle made his usual appearance at WrestleMania in Los Angeles this past weekend. As each year passes, Kittle gets more and more involved in the event, making his post-football career gig look clearer by the day.
But we’re going to talk about Kittle’s thoughts on injuries and Thursday night football. Kittle equated injuries with luck multiple times when speaking with Theo Von on This Past Weekend. The two were discussing the aesthetics of how you look on the football field, when Kittle described a specific type of play:
“Football is a really weird sport where you just kinda get lucky. I could be blocking somebody,a nd then the running back could miss me by an inch, or he could kick me in the calf as he’s going by me. You just have to get lucky sometimes. I got really lucky this year where my shins were getting beaten up, but nothing else.”
Kittle reached that conclusion after being asked if he was going to potentially wear shin guards, before ultimately saying he couldn’t bring himself to do it based on how it looks.
Kittle shared quite a bit, including his dad’s injury history on that side of the family, how the game of football has evolved from an athletic and muscular standpoint — he said there are five players on the 49ers who could punch you in the face “and they’d kill you.”
But where Kittle got wound up was discussing an additional bye week. He was discussing his schedule where Kittle leaves for training camp on July 24 and this past year his season didn’t end until the end of January. Then, the offseason program, or “spring football,” as he called it, begins April 15 for two months.
As we know, there’s minimal contact until training camp begins. Still, August 1 through the end of January has to be brutal on the body. Kittle said the addition of a 17th game, which he voted against, hasn’t helped. Here’s his theory:
So if you’re going to add a game, if you just add another bye week, there will be 19 weeks, there are more weeks of football, more money to be made, and your best players are staying healthy. So, why not do it? It makes the most sense to me.
I bet if the NFL were to put out a vote now, I don’t think any player would complain about that. OK, so it makes our season longer and now we’re getting done in the first week of February. OK, maybe take out a week of OTAs.
Kittle continued, saying he generally doesn’t feel like himself until Thursday or Friday during the season:
“I’m in multiple car accidents every Sunday. I’ve had games where I hyperextended my knee, that’s gonna affect your season. Or you burst a bursa sac in your knee. That’s going to be there for several weeks. And if you get lucky, you don’t have to deal with that stuff, it’s a little bit better, but you’re still getting into these car accidents. Monday, I have to do a big lower body lift. I have to move. Otherwise you get really stiff and you get more sore. So you do a big lift, try to stay a little bit mobile.
Mondays I usually feel OK. Tuesdays are really, really hard days. It’s like the second day after so you kind of feel everything. Some Tuesdays are better than others. Especially when we play on the East Coast, we have a five-hour flight back, and we get home at 4 a.m., those are tough.
You get in these car accidents and it takes like…Thursday to Friday is when I start to feel like myself again. The more into the season you get, the more your body is wear and tear, wear and tear, wear and tear. Really now how I see it is, if I’m not doing football, I’m doing recovery.
Whether it’s tubs, whether it’s BFR workouts, or just movement, yoga, red light therapy, saunas. Whatever is available, that’s all I do. I get home, let’s say like a Wednesday at 6:30, my next two and a half hours are rehab.”
Kittle said before he received his contract extension, he was at the 49ers facilities from 6:15 to 8:00 at night. Now, he can afford to have those recovery tools inside his house, which allows him to get home quicker.
This conversation took place a couple of weeks ago before the NFL decided to flex Thursday night games. But if one of the best players at his position doesn’t feel ‘normal’ until four or five days after the previous game, despite extensive efforts, I’m guessing the majority of the workforce is in the same boat.