Non-disclosure of player illnesses highlights another type of NFL inside information
After Monday night’s win over the Buccaneers, Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts said he played through flu-like symptoms. Hurts, however, had not been listed as having an illness on the various injury reports filed by the team before the game.
The situation demonstrates another area of inside information that could be, in theory, mishandled by those hoping to place legal wagers on a given game.
We asked the NFL whether Hurts or any other Eagles players who were under the weather should have been disclosed as having an illness.
“Unless the players missed practice or were limited in any way, they would not need to be listed on the injury report,” chief NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy told PFT via email.
That’s what happened with one Eagles player. Safety Terrell Edmunds did not practice on Thursday or Friday with an illness. He was disclosed on each injury report issued last week as having an illness.
This approach exposes a subtle but tangible difference between injuries and illnesses. When a player has an injury, it gets disclosed even if he fully participates in practice all week. When a player has an illness, it is not required to be disclosed unless the player has been limited in some way.
And for an illness that arises or becomes exacerbated on game day, McCarthy said that the team must update its injury report only "[i]f a player’s illness causes the club to decide that a player will not start or will not play.”
In other words, if a player is under 100 percent due to an illness (and Hurts apparently was), the team need not say anything unless he won’t start or won’t play.
The bottom line is that the teams have a blank check to hide illnesses that don’t limit a player’s ability to participate in practice or keep him from starting or playing. Which makes those illnesses inside information that could be misappropriated by those looking to profit from it.
Of course, if anyone tried to parlay that information into betting on the Bucs to win or to cover the spread, those wagers would have lost. But Hurts finished under his rushing total of 43; if someone knew he was secretly ill and used that information to bet he wouldn’t run as much as projected, that information provided a very real benefit.
With so many unresolved questions about the manner in which a wide variety of inside information is handled, the less inside information the better. So why not require any player who has an illness to be disclosed as having an illness?
It seems like a simple fix that would wall off one of the various ways that the league could eventually be stung by the use of inside information by those who have access to it, whether it’s a player, a member of the coaching staff, a member of the training staff, a member of the medical staff, or anyone else who happens to know a specific truth that is not available to the public at large.
In a world of illegal gambling, it doesn’t matter. In a nation that has embraced legalized sports betting programs one state at a time, it becomes “material, non-public information” that should be guarded in the same way that corporations protect facts that could influence the buying and selling of public shares of stock.
As to player illnesses, the NFL should just require the information to be disclosed.