The NFL is playing with fire when it comes to its failure to enforce the rules and requirements of its injury reports.
At some point, a controversy is going to spring from the misinformation contained in the thrice-per-week proclamations from teams regarding the health, or lack thereof, of players.
For much of the season, for example, Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts has had a knee injury. He has never once been listed on any of his team's injury reports.
More recently, Jaguars coach Doug Pederson explained to reporters that the Jacksonville offense has had limitations due to quarterback Trevor Lawrence's knee injury — even though he last appeared on the injury report in Week 8.
He injured it late in a Week 6 win over the Colts. He was questionable for Week 7 against the Saints, and for Week 8 at Pittsburgh. As of Week 10 against the 49ers, he was off the report entirely.
But he is clearly still bothered by the knee.
"One of the things that we haven't been able to do because of Trevor's condition with his knee is just move him a little bit more," Pederson said, via Nick Shook of NFL.com. "Sometimes, you can create things off of that. He’s been limited that way."
Lawrence himself, who again is not on the injury report this week, admitted to reporters this week that he's still injured.
"It's feeling better," Lawrence said. "It's finally getting to where I'm not going to really think about it as much and won't be as much as an issue. I feel like I'm starting to move pretty fluid and it's not bothering when I do much. Obviously, it's still a little bit here or there, it'll get aggravated. But that's a good question, I'm starting to feel comfortable and I'm happy about that with the progress I've made. We've been able to protect it the last few weeks and I'm excited to hopefully finally get going and just play normal, move around, all that stuff."
They've protected it in more ways than one. They've protected it by keeping it secret, and by creating the impression he has fully healed. Even though he hasn't.
This creates inside information that can be used by gamblers to help inform their wagers. Wouldn't it have been nice to know the things Pederson and Lawrence said before legally placing money on last weekend's 49ers-Jaguars game? Wouldn't that have gotten anyone inclined to pick the Jaguars to win or to cover the spread to think twice?
This inside information that can be misappropriated and utilized by those who realize that, while not foolproof, it creates a real advantage, given time and volume.
So why did the Jaguars not list him? They'd try to say he fully participated in every practice, played throughout the game, didn't get treatment (at least not from the team directly), etc., etc. And the NFL, which has said or done nothing about Philly's chronic refusal to disclose Hurts's knee injury, will likely let it go.
Here, the writer working directly for the league pointed out the absence of Lawrence from the injury reports in the very article containing quotes making it obvious that he's still injured. And it's nevertheless likely that the league will do nothing about it.
Teams will keep doing what they're doing until the league takes action. The league quite possibly is reluctant to do so, because the league knows that the entire injury-reporting mechanism could become a Pandora's box of problems for the league.
It's flawed, it's imperfect, it's routinely abused, and those abuses create imbalances between the very few bettors who know the truth — and the many who don't.
If the league won't fix that, someone else will, eventually. And the league likely won't be happy with the outcome.