Injuries are the worst.
While they happen in other sports as well, there is no question that they happen with greater frequency and impact in the NFL.
Every year, some of the league's marquee players go down. The prominence of the names can vary, but the injuries are still brutal.
Can there ever be some positives to come out of such gargantuan negatives?
Before you dismiss that idea out of hand, this is not a suggestion that the NFL is somehow better off without dynamic stars like J.J. Watt, Odell Beckham Jr. and Aaron Rodgers. And it's not suggesting that safety for players shouldn't be paramount. Nobody ever roots for injuries. But it's possible to look at the bigger picture, understanding that injuries in any given season are a near-certainty.
One of the things about the NFL is that anything can and often does happen.
The Dolphins coming back from a 17-point deficit to beat the defending NFC Champion Atlanta Falcons in their building on Sunday? Nobody saw that coming.
Or the previously winless Giants, despite all their injuries, dominating the Broncos in Denver? A shocking outcome to be sure.
And, yes, the injury to Rodgers totally changed the dynamic of the Packers vs. Vikings game, as well as the entire complexion of the NFC playoff picture.
So don't ever presume that you'll know what's going to happen next.
The odds are probably not great that new Packers quarterback Brett Hundley will end up being an elite player in the NFL, but are they any longer than what happened in 1999 with Kurt Warner or 2001 with Tom Brady?
In both of those instances, the starting quarterback for each team went down with a devastating injury (Trent Green tore his ACL in a Rams preseason game, the Pats' Drew Bledsoe was knocked out of a Week 2 game against the Jets). And all Warner and Brady ended up doing was lead their teams all the way to a Super Bowl title. Two Cinderella stories in a three-year period.
There are plenty of examples like that, even if they are not quite as well known. Matt Cassel was a complete unknown when Brady himself went down in 2008. Now he's in his 14th year in the NFL in a career that took off once he went 10-5 with the Patriots as a starter for the rest of that '08 season.
More recently, look at Dak Prescott and what the Cowboys found out about him last year once Tony Romo and Kellen Moore went down. There's no telling when Prescott would've have been able to show what he could do without both of those injuries occurring during the preseason.
Even this year, Colts quarterback Jacoby Brissett is showing that he can be a viable NFL starter with the way he has performed in Andrew Luck's absence on short notice after getting traded from New England to Indy right before the season started.
It happens at other positions as well.
Would I have made the Redskins roster as a rookie in 2001 if our stud left tackle Chris Samuels didn't get hurt early in the first quarter of the second preseason game against the Atlanta Falcons? I'm not sure, but it certainly helped my cause tremendously that I was somehow able to hold my own at left tackle for a few quarters in my first ever NFL action.
As much as injuries stink and we can't stand them, it does mean that opportunity will knock for many players and teams.
Rodgers' injury gives an extra boost to teams like the Philadelphia Eagles or Carolina Panthers. If they thought they had a chance at an NFC title before, they (and their fans) certainly feel even better about it now.
So, while Rodgers' injury was a crushing blow to Packers fans everywhere, it was an added ray of hope to other fans. This is just the way things go in the NFL.