Faking It

Saturday, September 24, 2011

There's a saying that goes perfect for this situation. It's been used countless times, and while it may not embrace the integrity or respect of the game, it happens in the cutthroat business that is the NFL: "If you ain't cheatin', you ain't tryin'."

The curtain was pulled back on the world of faking injuries in the NFL during Monday night's Giants-Rams game. With St. Louis driving inside the red zone and using a no-huddle offense, two Giant defenders flopped to the ground after a play, simultaneously. One got right back up, by Deon Grant stayed down with an apparent injury, while the clock stopped and the drive halted.

The aftermath of the play had NFL players saying this has always been a part of the game, in some cases, it's taught.

"They have a name for it and I've been places where it's been pre-called," Browns linebacker Scott Fujita said this week.

Miami running back Reggie Bush said usually a team "just designates a guy who fakes an injury" and called the practice "bush league."

Ed Reed of the Ravens said, "It's always been in the game. It's all tactical stuff you need to use. Whatever it takes. ... If you're tired. You get a break however you can."

That's the way it goes in the NFL. Do absolutely anything you can to get a W, even going as far as faking an injury.

It sounds sleazy and dishonest, and in a way it is. But there are millions and billions of dollars based on wins and losses. People are going to go to extremes. And more importantly, how can you possibly determine if someone is faking an injury?

The NFL wants all 32 teams to know they're aware of it and has sent them all a memo threatening fines, suspensions, or loss of draft picks if the league determines players faked injuries during a game.

This is a dangerous grey area the NFL would be wise to avoid. There's no way determine with certainty if a player has "faked" an injury, no matter how it may look.

Everyone knows the physical price the NFL takes on its players. On any given play, a player could suffer a serious injury. So if someone goes down, how can anyone determine the extent of that injury?

I can't, you can't, and certainly the NFL can't. Yet they're the ones declaring the importance of player safety. Now they are going to fine someone because they don't think they actually got hurt on a play? Can't be done. And I'll be stunned and outraged if anyone is fined or suspended due to "faking an injury."

Redskins head coach Mike Shanahan said, "It happens all the time, and warnings will come out. And it's happened again." This tells me the league is trying to make it publicly known this time, hoping by exposing it to the masses, teams won't be as quick to employ it.

The aforementioned Deon Grant defended himself against the charge of faking, "How can another person that's not in your body tell you when you're faking an injury?"

He's right. It's impossible. There's no way of policing it and to suggest the league will is laughable. There's always going to be a player, coach, team looking to use any edge they can get to a win. By any means necessary in the NFL. Even if that means taking a dive on a play. After all, "If ya ain't cheatin', ya ain't tryin'."

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