Friday, September 23, 2011


What a great (NOT) revelation happened this last Monday night during the St. Louis Rams - New York Giants National Football League (NFL) game. All of a sudden the NFL which has known about the rampant faking of injuries during games for a long time has now decided to enforce penalties up to and including fines, suspensions and loss of draft choices (ouch!). Why now? Well, because the faking of injuries has become so increasingly blatant that it is to the obvious detriment of the game. They have no choice.

The proverbial cat was finally out of the bag after two New York Giants players, Deon Grant and Jacquian Williams simultaneously and inexplicably hit the deck as the Rams came to the line in their no-huddle, hurry-up offense that had the Giants back on their heels. A rabid NY Giants fan since 1953, I watched the video over and over looking for an excuse to believe them. The charade, however, was so obvious that even the usually stoic and impartial ESPN announcing team called Grant and Williams out for their illegal ploy to slow down the Rams offense and probably save a timeout. It looked rehearsed, practiced…and poorly executed.

To make matters worse, when Williams saw that Grant was down he realized the fait accompli, stood up and walked away as if nothing had happened. Despite whatever assertions of injury or protestations by Grant or any other player past, present or future - he and others of his ilk have absolutely no credibility from that point.

Some folks counter, “So what?” alleging that the NFL has no rule specifically against faking an injury. While that may be true there is one rule in the books which (given what appears to be a broad interpretation by an official) specifies that behaviors intended to stop the clock or deliberately slow the game are met with (Ta-Da) a delay of game penalty. Having said that, much of the injury faking is no longer even discreet or a hand well-played. These flops are so badly performed that there is little doubt as to their purpose and that’s what tipped the NFL to action. These poor actors may even ultimately fail to effectively promote a legitimate injury or health-related issue that should result in a time out. When player safety has to be the top priority, Chicken Little is close at hand.

Present NFL players including Reggie Bush, Scott Fujita, Ed Reed, Frank Gore and Bryan Kehl among others have publicly admitted and verified to the whole world that faking injuries in order to slow down an opponent and give your team a break has been an accepted tactical part of the game for quite a while. Several NFL coaches when asked about the practice gave winks and nods while admitting nothing. Tony Dungy, the highly respected former player with the Steelers and Forty-Niners and successful Colts & Buccaneers head coach and now color analyst with NBC Sport’s Football Night in America commented that it was, “…part of what's happening now in the NFL.”

So, faking injuries isn't a new thing with players who even talk about being taught to flop and even individuals being designated for that duty. We’ve seen it mostly in soccer and, of course, in wrestling where dedicated combatants even use blood packets/capsules or in their manic enthusiasm cut themselves with hidden razors. But now these “embarrassing flop jobs” could cost the NFL valuable credibility it cannot afford to lose after the most recent extended labor dispute.

No doubt the NFL realizes that if they don’t crack down on this corruption of the game, the disease will spread to the rest of the sport. A wink and nod today becomes blatant disregard tomorrow. We already know The Game is mostly about money with some fans now pondering whether it’s nothing more than bad theater.


Ned Buxton

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