The NFL – “NO FAKERS”

Posted: September 23, 2011 in Robert J. Romano

There is no rule against it, coaches condone it, and players admit it is an accepted practice, but NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell insisted on sending a memo to all 32 NFL franchises warning players not to fake it during a game.  Especially on Monday Night Football where more than 12 million fans are tuning in watching on ESPN.

Commissioner Goodell sent the memo as a result of New York Football Giants’ Deon Grant allegedly faking an injury against the St. Louis Rams this past Monday night in an effort to save the Giants from using a timeout.

Per Commissioner Goodell’s memo, the NFL “reminded” teams of league policy that calls on coaches to discourage the practice.  However, there is no specific rule on this topic.

And the Commissioner is serious.  He has decided to use his powers of doing “what is in the best interest of the sports” to warn NFL teams that if such action continues, discipline will ensue which includes fines, suspensions, and the possible loss of draft picks if the league concludes that a player faked an injury during a game. Wow – I guess the Commissioner doesn’t like when people “fake it”.  (Take notice Mrs. Goodell).

However, most NFL insiders – coaches, players, and league personnel – condone the use of using phony injuries if it provides a competitive edge.

“I’ve been places where it has been taught,” said Browns linebacker Scott Fujita. “They have a name for it and I’ve been places where it’s been pre-called. I’ve been places where it’s one player who has been designated. Maybe I’m getting everyone in trouble, but I’m just being honest.”

“It’s always been in the game,” Ravens All-Pro safety Ed Reed said. “It’s all tactical stuff you need to use. Whatever it takes. … If you’re tired, you’re tired. You get a break however you can.”

But not everyone is on board.  St. Louis Rams coach Steve Spagnuolo notified the NFL that he suspected the Giants were feigning injuries in St. Louis’ 28-16 loss.  Additionally, Rams quarterback Sam Bradford said it was obvious the Giants were just “buying time”.  “They couldn’t get subbed, they couldn’t line up,” Bradford said. “Someone said, ‘Someone go down, someone go down,’ so someone just went down and grabbed a cramp.”

Sounds a little like sour grapes after a loss – and I think Mr. Bradford is going to have to start looking over his shoulder since defensive lineman are not going to be happy about his telling of NFL “secrets”.

Giants’ coach Tom Coughlin said he was not aware of Grant faking an injury and Grant said he wasn’t pretending to be injured.

“I went out one play,” Grant said. “I got banged up, and went right back in and finished the game — just like I have every game for my career. My whole thing is when do you know if somebody is faking an injury?

Grant said he banged his knee on the previous play while making a tackle. He began flexing his knee and knew he’d hurt it, but wanted to stay in the game. Grant said someone — perhaps defensive end Justin Tuck — was behind him and said, ‘D, don’t try to run off the field, just go down.’ And I was like, ‘No.’ ”

“I went out (and) came back in. I’ve been doing that my whole career. But you go and check my medical report. I have the injuries to speak for it. Two torn MCLs I never had surgery on. Wrist surgery. Shoulder surgery. A broken hip with a metal plate with screws in it, so I don’t fake nothing. How can another person that’s not in your body tell you when you’re faking an injury?”

Had Grant attempted to get off the field, it could have left the Giants a defender short when the ball was snapped. Of course, they also could have called a timeout, a course of action teams might need to use in the future.

Commissioner Goodell’s memo stated:

“Going forward, be advised that should the league office determine that there is reasonable cause, all those suspected of being involved in faking injuries will be summoned promptly to this office … to discuss the matter. Those found to be violators will be subject to appropriate disciplinary action for conduct detrimental to the game.”

The NFL’s has discussed this issue previously but hesitated to pass a rule that would have officials make judgments on injuries.

“We have been fortunate that teams and players have consistently complied with the spirit of the rule over the years and this has not been an issue for the NFL,” the memo said. “We are determined to take all necessary steps to ensure that it does not become an issue.”

This delay tactics have always been considered part of the game – we will see how far the Commissioner pushes this issue.

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