Smith’s po­ten­tial ca­reer-end­ing health is­sues serve as sober re­minder that some­times noth­ing can be done ... Feel­ing foot­ball-league fa­tigue ... Pa­tri­ots rolling, as per usual

The Province - - SPORTS - John Kryk’s [email protected]­media.com Twit­ter: @JohnKryk

1. Wash­ing­ton Red­skins QB Alex Smith re­mains hos­pi­tal­ized since break­ing both the tibia and fibula in his lower right leg on Nov. 18.

NEWS: Re­ports Thurs­day said Alex Smith is deal­ing with a po­ten­tial ca­reerend­ing com­pli­ca­tion from the com­pound dou­ble leg-bone break. Specif­i­cally, that an in­fec­tion has set in fol­low­ing nu­mer­ous surg­eries.

The Red­skins in a state­ment re­fused to con­firm such de­tails, but said “although this is a se­ri­ous in­jury, Alex and his fam­ily re­main strong. We would ask that ev­ery­one please hon­our the Smith fam­ily’s re­quest for pri­vacy at this time.”

VIEW: Med­i­cal pro­fes­sion­als in sports are so good at what they do, we sel­dom hear of po­ten­tial se­ri­ous out­comes from such in­juries as bro­ken bones, mus­cle and lig­a­ment tears, etc.

Too of­ten, we want to slot ev­ery in­jury within min­utes of its oc­cur­rence in terms of a re­turnto-play time­line — and we just ex­pect physi­cians and sur­geons to per­form their cut­ting-edge miracles with­out con­sid­er­a­tion of any af­ter-the-fact is­sues a pa­tient might en­counter that might mess up the orig­i­nal ball­park time­line we all first heard about, and banked on it as fact.

Smith’s plight of­fers us sober­ing re­minders that (a) some in­juries are so se­ri­ous that some­times even the world’s best med­i­cal prac­ti­tion­ers can­not pre­vent se­ri­ous com­pli­ca­tions, and (b) the more grue­some the in­jury — as was Smith’s — the more the pos­si­bil­ity there could se­ri­ous com­pli­ca­tions, even lifethreat­en­ing.

Best wishes to Smith for a full and speedy re­cov­ery.

2. Can all th­ese ri­val pro foot­ball leagues sur­vive?

NEWS: Yet an­other was an­nounced Thurs­day — the Free­dom Foot­ball League (FFL).

That’s now three win­ter/spring/ sum­mer Amer­i­can pro foot­ball leagues soon to launch, if you’re count­ing at home.

The FFL is cre­ated by some 50 for­mer NFL play­ers in­clud­ing Ter­rell Owens, Jeff Gar­cia

and Ricky Wil­liams. At least 10 teams were an­nounced to play, in a spring-to-sum­mer time­line: San Diego War­riors, Ok­la­homa City Power, Port­land Progress, Texas Revo­lu­tion, Ohio Play­ers, Florida Strong, Birm­ing­ham Kings, St. Louis In­de­pen­dence, Con­necti­cut Un­der­ground and Oak­land Pan­thers. The FFL did not an­nounce an ex­act league startup date or year.

The Al­liance of Amer­i­can Foot­ball (AAF) is sched­uled to be­gin play on Feb. 9 – so in two months – with eight teams: At­lanta Leg­ends, Birm­ing­ham Iron, Mem­phis Ex­press, Or­lando Ap­po­los, Ari­zona Hot­shots,

Salt Lake Stal­lions, San

An­to­nio Com­man­ders and

San Diego Fleet. Head coaches in­clude Steve Spurrier, Rick Neuheisel, Den­nis Erick­son, Brad Chil­dress, Mike Ri­ley and Mike Martz. Its cham­pi­onship game is slated for the April 2628 week­end.

Vince McMa­hon’s reprise of the XFL, mean­time, is sched­uled to be­gin play in early 2020, also with eight teams: in Dal­las, Hous­ton, Los An­ge­les, New York, St. Louis, Seat­tle, Tampa Bay and Wash­ing­ton.

VIEW: Some­body, please, get all th­ese folks into one room and fig­ure out one league.

The odds any of them sur­vive more than one sea­son are low, if they can all even get off the ground.

Ri­val pro sports leagues just don’t last long. With­out a ma­jor net­work TV con­tract to fa­mil­iar­ize folks with teams and play­ers, and help pay ex­penses, it’s al­most im­pos­si­ble. In­deed, ever hear of an off-sea­son ri­val to Ma­jor League Base­ball start­ing up? The Na­tional Bas­ket­ball As­so­ci­a­tion? Or the Na­tional Hockey League? Ex­actly — no.

A con­fused mar­ket is even worse. Quick, re­cite more than four cities in any of the three foot­ball leagues you just read about, above. See?

The NFL des­per­ately needs an Amer­i­can-rules feeder pro league, to de­velop play­ers at all po­si­tions post-col­lege, es­pe­cially quar­ter­backs. Maybe it will align with one, to help the process along.

3. New Eng­land is on the verge of clinch­ing yet an­other AFC East divi­sion ti­tle.

NEWS: En­ter­ing the last week of Septem­ber, we all thought this re­ally might be the year the New Eng­land Pa­tri­ots’ re­mark­able run of con­sec­u­tive divi­sion ti­tles fi­nally ended, at nine. They were 1-2, af­ter con­sec­u­tive dou­ble-digit losses at Jack­sonville and De­troit, and 41-year-old QB Tom Brady was not play­ing well at all. Plus, Mi­ami was 3-0.

In­stead, since then, the Pa­tri­ots are 8-1 and the Dol­phins are 3-6. And be­tween them the New York Jets and Buf­falo Bills have seven wins and 17 losses.

So, same old same old.

VIEW: Are the Pa­tri­ots play­ing great on of­fence? No. Is Brady play­ing as well, and look­ing as crisp, as he did even two years ago when he was named NFL MVP? No. Is the Pa­tri­ots de­fence one of the league’s bet­ter units? No.

But Bill Belichick’s Pa­tri­ots are 9-3, with games left at Mi­ami, at Pitts­burgh, vs. Buf­falo and vs. the Jets. Gotta think they’ll win at least two, if not three. Or all four.

As the Twit­ter ac­count Bos­tons Diehards in­formed on Tues­day, this decade

New Eng­land has been ei­ther 10-2 (four times) or

9-3 (five times) ev­ery dang year af­ter 12 games. Talk about con­sis­tency. And great coach­ing.

The Pa­tri­ots now just need one win or tie in the last quar­ter of the sea­son to clinch their

10th straight AFC East ti­tle. Not only has no NFL team ever won its divi­sion 10 straight years, no NFL team ever has reached the play­offs in 10 straight sea­sons. Ever. The Pats cur­rently are tied with Dal­las (1975-83) and In­di­anapo­lis (2002-10) with nine post-sea­son berths in a row.

Oh, and with one more win the Pats can tie the 1983-98

San Fran­cisco 49ers for the most con­sec­u­tive sea­sons with dou­ble-digit vic­to­ries – 16.

The last time New Eng­land didn’t win at least 10 games was 2002. When Bills rookie QB Josh

Allen was six years old, and Jets rookie QB Sam Darnold was five.

Sheesh.

— GETTY IM­AGES

Ti­tans run­ning back Der­rick Henry runs with the ball while Jack­sonville Jaguars’ Myles Jack de­fends last night at Nis­san Sta­dium in Nashville. Henry ran for 238 yards and four touch­downs as the hosts cruised to vic­tory.

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