Stafford’s opportunity to lead one last two-minute drill was wiped away by Newton, however. The Panthers, facing third-and-9 from their own 24-yard-line, iced the game with a 17-yard strike to Kelvin Benjamin. After three kneel-downs, Carolina stood atop the NFC, shoulder-to-shoulder with the Eagles for now.

Those in the Delta Sky360 Club (which, in 16,455 square feet, elevates the sports bar concept to a magnificent VIP experience) were forced to witness a man’s private agony. It disturbed the reverie, intruded on the fantasy that we are somehow not complicit in the game’s brutality. A player goes down while you’re watching on TV and they cut to a commercial. When they come back, he is miraculously gone, and the attention moves to the inadequacies of his replacement.

But this is different. They close their eyes and wince, the image flashing in their minds. They shake their heads reflexively, as if they can dislodge the memory and evict it from their brains. They watched Teddy Bridgewater go down on that field on Aug. 30, his left leg separating at the knee, during the first minutes of a Vikings preseason practice. Every time they think about it, every time they stand near this field and close their eyes, they see it again.

INJURIES IN THE NFL are commodified, sloganized, reduced to transactions. They’re interchangeable, disposable, devoid of pain. They’re dehumanized, disembodied, such an expected part of the game that they’ve got their own capitalized catchphrase: Next Man Up.

Check the injury report, adjust your fantasy team.

I hate that exact saying — ‘Next man up,’ Vikings guard Alex Boone says. That’s f—ed up because it makes it sound like we’re barbarians. Like we don’t care: ‘F— it, he’s hurt, move on.’ It’s terrible to say that. A guy gets hurt and all of a sudden everyone is like, ‘Oh, who was that guy?’

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