The Colorado Crush announced their opening day roster yesterday, which, on the scale of interesting sports stories…isn’t on the scale. But I read it anyway, because I always peruse roster moves in professional sports to see if I know anybody from when I used to be a sports reporter. Usually I know the people who got cut — not the people who made the team — but either way I always look. It’s a weird habit, I know, but I do it.
Anyway, I read this story from 9News.com about the Crush roster and saw that OL/DL Craig Heimburger was placed on Injured Reserve. I know Heimburger from when he played football at the University of Missouri and I covered the team for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, which is interesting to me but surely not interesting to you. I’m surprised he’s still playing, especially since he’s still trudging along in a minor league after all these years. I think he married a softball player from Missouri, so maybe he’s just biding his time until his super kids get their first NFL signing bonus.
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So Heimburger is on injured reserve, which is only interesting to me, but his story got me thinking about why we don’t have Injured Reserve in real life.
If you’re not familiar with Injured Reserve, it’s a pretty cool deal. It works differently in the Arena Football League than it does in major sports like the NFL (the latter is a better deal), but the idea is roughly the same: rather than cut an injured player from your team, you can continue to pay him but keep him on a reserve list for “injured” players. Sometimes those players are legitimately injured and cannot play, but sometimes they only have minor injuries — like a twisted ankle or a sprained earlobe. The players who aren’t really that hurt exist in this netherworld of professional sports where they aren’t good enough that the team really needs them, but they are just good enough that the team doesn’t want to cut them (and allow another team to sign them). The fear is that they might someday be good enough for the team to really need them, and if they were cut, another team might figure that out first.
This is somewhat similar to being a “practice squad” player in the NFL, although I think “practice squad” isn’t as cool. You still get paid a good salary — a few thousand bucks a week — but you get the crap kicked out of you all week in practice and never get to play in the game. It’s like if the character from Rudy turned pro. I don’t think you still practice if you are on “injured reserve,” but I’m not completely sure about that and I’m too lazy too look it up (and where would I look it up, anyway? It’s not like I have an NFL rule book in my filing cabinet).
Back to my original point: we should have “injured reserve” in real life. In some ways it already exists in the corporate world — it’s called “middle management” — but I say that every person should be allowed to put themselves on “injured reserve” once every, say, two years. You could pay into it like Social Security (only this would still exist in 20 years), and then when you weren’t feeling well or just didn’t want to work for awhile, you could say, “Listen, boss, I think I’m going to go on injured reserve until March.” That way, you wouldn’t have to quit your job, but you could still get away from it for awhile. Your company would get the money back for your salary because you’d already paid into the “injured reserve” fund. Everybody’s happy.
Likewise, companies should be allowed to use it anytime. This way they wouldn’t have to go through the motions of giving an employee something mindless to do because they didn’t want to fire them or “promote” them to Assistant Vice-President of That Cubicle Over There. This would come in handy for companies that had a talented employee with good ideas…who was also kind of a dick and nobody liked him. Rather than fire Bob in Marketing because he was always eating Suzie in Accounting’s lunch — and risk losing him to your competitor — you could just put Bob on “injured reserve” and send him home for awhile. He’d get the point, like football players understand when they are put on “injured reserve” and aren’t really injured, and maybe he’d shape up and come back a new Bob. Or maybe he’d come back and still act like a dick, but at least you figured out that there was no way to fix him; you wouldn’t be worried about losing him to a competitor anymore, because the competitor is only going to do the same thing to Bob once he starts scarfing everybody’s yogurt out of the company fridge.
This is kind of like a sabbatical, except you get paid. In fact, it’s better than a sabbatical, because people think it’s cool when you tell them you are on “injured reserve.” When you tell someone you are on a sabbatical, they either think you are using a euphemism for “I got canned” or you’ve decided to not have sex for awhile. Either way, it’s embarrassing.
I’m putting myself on “injured reserve” as of this moment. Does a “bruised ego” count as an injury?