September 21, 2011
Give Roger Goodell credit for this: When he thinks something is amiss in the NFL, he acts swiftly.
In a memo sent out Wednesday to all 32 teams, the league warned that faking injuries during games could lead to fines, suspensions and a loss of draft picks.
The memo comes two days after two New York Giants players, including cornerback Deon Grant(notes), were accused of faking injuries to slow down the St. Louis Rams no-huddle offense. In insisting he wasn't faking, Grant comes across as credible as a fifth-grader explaining why he doesn't have his homework.
Goodell and the league office didn't buy it and responded quickly, before the NFL saw more diving than a World Cup game.
The memo reads, in part:
"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.
"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. We are determined to take all necessary steps to ensure that it does not become an issue."
Deadspin thinks they're empty words. Really? In the recent past, Goodell has shown his fondness for levying fines based on perception, so this is a perfect template for him. All those fines for illegal hits show the commissioner doesn't care about the intent of an action. A dirty hit is a dirty hit, even if you didn't mean it. Thus, if it looks like you've faked an injury for a competitive advantage, then that's what Goodell is going to believe. When has a player's denial mattered at all in terms of how much he's fined?
The memo should put an end to the egregious faking-of-injury trend quickly. (I use trend loosely. Very loosely. It was one guy on Monday night.) We'll forget about it by midseason. Dangerous hits are a part of football. Weeding them out will take years, by which time the sport will look like a game of touch football at the Kennedy Compound. Faking injuries isn't, which is why Goodell will have no trouble getting rid of it.
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