It’s time for teams to stop caring whether their players are playing offseason hoops…

Terrell Suggs likes to flex (Associated Press)

Earlier in the offseason, Ravens LB Terrell Suggs tore his Achilles. That, we know. How it happened? Well… that’s up for debate.

An ESPN report seems to indicate the All-Pro injured himself playing in a basketball tournament, while Suggs has denied it adamantly. I hate to say it, but with so many eyewitnesses, it makes Suggs’ denial seem… slightly far-fetched.

But here’s my real question: Who cares? 

So what if he injured his Achilles playing basketball? Who cares whether it popped because he was breaking down a defender off the bounce (hip hoops term alert!) or if he was doing a three-cone drill on a field? Is it actually worse to injure yourself playing basketball on a court than under the auspices of a trainer on a field? Are you actually more at risk?

I know it seems worse. You can easily go, “Look! It’s non-football. He needs to stick to football.” But that argument, one that is made in contracts that ban non-football activities, is pretty dumb. I mean, it is. Look, if it was skiing, polo (the kind with the horses, not the water variety), rodeoing, it would be different. Even baseball, with the possibility of getting drilled by the pitcher, is different.

But to say basketball is not football-related is only true if you are really, really, insanely picky. Basketball players work on and thrive on similar skills as are emphasized in football conditioning workouts — quickness, agility, eye-hand coordination, fitness. If there are added risks, I’m not aware. Maybe the possibility of colliding with someone else, but that’s minimal.

In reality, if you take away the ball, the activities are similar. So why is it more of a risk?

Oh, and football players play basketball. It’s not really a hidden secret anymore. During their free time, during the summers, on Tuesdays during the season, they play hoops. For many, it was a first love, and they like doing it. In addition, it probably has helped hone the skills that so many teams appreciate from their players. And think about how many thousands of hours of basketball Suggs has played before getting this freak injury.

But now you ban it? Get over it. Teams need to make clear that basketball is OK for players to play in their offseason. Players like it — it keeps them happy and in shape with minimal downside. The Ravens have shown no inclination to fight for Suggs’ money or reduce his pay, likely because they know injuries happen and if it wasn’t basketball it was something else.

Other teams need to follow suit. Suggs hasn’t been shy about saying that he loves playing it during the offseason. He’s not alone. Why does he have to do it in secret and hide it. Just tell them they can play.

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