The NFL has caused me so many facepalms this week that my head kind of hurts and my hand is numb.
I like soccer. I really really like soccer. Most people in America don’t. Because it’s a sport played by wussy little boys who flop around on the field pretending to be hurt. Oh, wait, that’s not soccer, that was last Monday night’s football game.
Pathetic? Yes. Bad Acting? Yes. Unsportsmanlike? Most definitely. But let’s all be real here. This is not the first time a player has faked an injury, either to stop the other team’s momentum or give their own team a free time out. Why do you think they run ten seconds off the clock when you’re within the two minute warning if you do it on offense and have no time outs left? Because people have faked it before. But I don’t know if I have ever witnessed a more obvious attempt at faking an injury, and I watch A LOT of soccer.
So a lot has been made this week of how to put a stop to such an awful thing. People have suggested penalties (which, FYI, if you do it on offense a second time in the two minute warning you do already get penalized), but it brings about the question, how do you know when a player is faking it?
This is the new NFL, the concerned about concussions and player safety NFL. So they responded with this memo:
"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."
Okay, just so I’m clear. The NFL wants players to be free to tell them about even the smallest lingering effects or even the slightest possibility of a concussion, but if you can’t prove it, you could be in trouble? Today on ESPN radio I heard a couple of people suggesting that perhaps the injured player should have to sit out a series instead of just the next play. So it’s the end of the game and my team’s driving and I get hurt. I’m not sure how bad it is, but I can’t act hurt then I’m done the whole series. Rub some dirt on it and go.
I’m not pro-faking injuries. I think it’s dumb. If your coach and players can’t figure out how to stop the other team, rolling around on the ground like you’re trying to win an Oscar shouldn’t be your next option. But I do think the NFL needs to tread wisely on this subject. You can’t on the one hand tell players that they should feel free to be up front and honest about injuries and encourage them to share and then penalize them if they can’t prove it. (I had a concussion after my head met a cement door frame. It happened right before St. Patty’s Day. Despite the two CAT scans and one MRI, I still have people who thought I was over reacting to avoid going out with them).
I really thought that this whole situation would eventually become a non-issue. The NFL issued that warning, and I assumed no team would be so blatant and then we’d all move on.
But then this ad appeared today.
We all already know how I feel about fantasy football. So I’m going to do my best not to rant about that as well. But come on, NFL! Forget about the fact that his injury probably actually hurt, as is the long recovery. Forget about the fact that he’s probably going to be making less money this year then he planned on seeing as he won’t be making any of those roster/yardage bonuses that I’m assuming are worked into his contract. Forget the possibility that this might completely alter his career. Forget his, his teams, and the team’s fans’ disappointment, let’s instead using him as a poster child for how people can save their fantasy football season!
NFL, wise up. I had thought we moved past this discussion once you decided to stop making the “best hits of the NFL” montage videos, but apparently not. No one’s going to believe that you actually care about player safety if you try to make money off of their injuries.
I have no words left. NFL, you are a massive fail today.