In the British navy, they call it "the butcher's bill"—the tally of casualties after a battle. In the National Football League, where gallows humor is frowned upon, they merely call it "the injured list." In most years it is made up largely of running backs whose knees have popped or wide receivers who have been clotheslined into the hospital. This season, though, the dreadful roster is studded with the names of the most widely known, highly paid and loudly applauded practitioners of this violent sport. Quarterbacks.
They are dropping all over the league. Last season, a typically destructive one, 14 quarterbacks were put on the butcher's bill. This year, with six games to go, fully 20 quarterbacks have made the sheet. Two starters are out for the year—Joe Ferguson of Buffalo (broken back) and Steve Bartkowski of Atlanta (knee surgery). Nine of the league's 28 teams have been forced to start their backup quarterbacks, and two—Los Angeles and Cleveland—have had to dip down to their third-stringers. Here is the butcher's bill to date, broken down (no pun intended) by category:
ANKLE: Joe Reed, Detroit.
ARM: Billy Kilmer, Washington.
BACK: Ferguson, Buffalo; Terry Bradshaw, Pittsburgh.
CALF: Joe Namath, New York Jets.
CONCUSSION: Ken Anderson, Cincinnati; Mike Boryla, Philadelphia; Bob Griese, Miami; Pat Haden, Los Angeles; Namath, Jets; Brian Sipe, Cleveland.
FINGER: Griese, Miami.
HAND: Roger Staubach, Dallas; Anderson, Cincinnati.
KNEE: Bartkowski, Atlanta; Ken Stabler, Oakland; Craig Morton, New York Giants; Bob Avellini, Chicago.