In Monday night’s game against the St Louis Rams, two New York Giants defensive players, Deon Grant and Jaquain Williams, faked injuries in an attempt to slow down the Rams’ no-huddle offense.
There was really no need to do so because the Rams’ offense has been pretty anemic so far this season and they have struggled in the red zone as well. And it was only the first quarter. The Giants went on to win the game 28-16 but sparked a bit of controversy.
It didn’t seem like such a big deal at first. This type of thing happens a lot in football. There have always been little ways the “get the edge” on an opponent. And while faking an injury may be “legal” it certainly violates the laws of sportsmanship. The ESPN announcers even made light of the situation and cracked a few jokes.
However, the NFL does not have a sense of humor. They have sent a memo to all teams warning them that they may be fined, players may be suspended and teams may even lose draft picks if the league determines that players faked injuries during a game. Right now the only way the Giants players can be punished is if they admit that they faked the injuries. And no one in their right mind would do that. When do you ever see an athlete call a penalty on themselves?
Only the refs can call a penalty and in this particular case they couldn’t do anything. The NFL rule book does not allow the referees to determine if an injury is real of fake. After all, they are not doctors. So the only thing the refs can do is blow their whistle and stop the action. (Just what the Giants defense wanted.) And there is now way the league would give them that authority. The NFL will have to dispense fines and suspensions after the fact, like they do with helmet to helmet hits.
One of the things we don’t want to see is football being turned into soccer where the players are constantly flopping and faking injuries. We don’t want to see an “ends justify the means” mentality sweep through the NFL.
Even with all the talk about “sportsmanship” and the “integrity of the game,” coaches and players will continue to do whatever it takes (legal or otherwise) to win games. And that’s the most important thing: winning.
Until the league finally comes down on a player or a team for faking injuries we will continue to see more of this. After all, it works.