Brian Urlacher's admission that the Bears faked injuries to slow down opposing offenses shouldn't have surprised anyone. And it might have given other teams ideas, or made them more emboldened to use their previous plans to fake injuries.
The Cowboys thought the Giants had some mysterious injuries against their up-tempo offense on Sunday night, especially one from the second quarter involving defensive lineman Cullen Jenkins.
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The Cowboys picked up a first down on a catch by Jason Witten, then rushed to the line to run another play. It's a scene that played out in most games Sunday, as many teams are taking to the no-huddle, up-tempo approach. Jenkins suddenly went down shaking his arm, and the officials blew the whistle to stop the game so the trainers could come out. Witten went to the official and started yelling "He's faking!" repeatedly – it was captured perfectly by NBC's cameras. Quarterback Tony Romo seemed to be arguing the same thing. Then a moment later Jenkins went jogging off the field. He later returned to the game.
Perhaps Jenkins really was in such pain at that moment he had to go down, but it sure seemed Witten was onto something.
"I thought us experts on football were the only ones who could see that," Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said when asked about the Giants faking injuries, according to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. "I didn’t know everybody could. It was so obvious it was funny. It wasn’t humorous because we really wanted the advantage and knew we could get it if we could get the ball snapped."
The problem is, there's not an easy solution and the issue of players faking injuries is only going to get worse as more teams go with a faster tempo.
Why wouldn't a defense take a dive here and there to slow the opponent down? If you're not morally opposed, the penalty is that the player has to miss one play. The team is probably happy to get a substitute in anyway against the fast-paced offensive attack. The NFL, which has been hypersensitive about player safety the past few years, can't exactly not stop the game when the player is on the ground looking for medical assistance. The NBA implemented a system of fining players for diving, and the NFL has the power to fine coaches, teams and players for faking injuries, but it's almost impossible to prove that a player wasn't hurt when he went down (and again, it's hard for the league to promote player safety and at the same time accuse players of faking injuries and fining them for it). Perhaps making a player sit out five plays instead of one would make some teams think twice about having a player fake an injury.
So while Witten, Romo and Jones were seemingly correct to be irate over the notion the Giants were faking injuries, they can argue all they want to the NFL about it. There's not an easy and obvious solution, and with more teams picking up the pace, there will likely be more players on the ground in "pain" this season.