Players Are Getting Pissed Over Injury Report Ruses
Our pal Ross Tucker of SI.com has put together an excellent item regarding an issue that long has occupied a high position on our official list of pet peeves, right above “people who always back in to parking spots” and just below “people with advanced degrees who still use the term ‘irregardless.’” It’s the injury report. Or, more specifically, the manner in which teams lie about its contents. The latest disclosure in this regard came from Patriots running back Laurence Maroney, who admitted that he played in a game last year with a broken shoulder, even though he wasn’t on the injury report for the game in question. Yes, he played. But, no, he was far from 100 percent. Since Maroney was told not to say anything about the injury, he was stuck with the perception that he was soft. And, recently, he snapped. Also, Chargers cornerback Antonio Cromarties had to keep quiet about a hip injury that he suffered in Week One last year -- and that hampered him all season. “I remember the play it happened, in the very first game, and I knew about it all year long,” Cromartie’s agent, Gary Wichard, told Tucker, “but it is taboo for anyone outside the organization to discuss it, which really can serve to put that player on an island.” Tucker, a former NFL player, says that players are becoming increasingly frustrated by the manner in which some teams approach the issue of hiding injuries. “Players like Maroney would prefer the fans and media knew what they were going through injury-wise so that evaluations could be made with all of the information available,” Tucker writes. “To the detriment of many players, however, some coaches are adamant about the information not getting out and thus they are only going to provide the league with the minimum required information, if that.” Teams hide the information in order to enhance competitive advantage, and likely because they assume (accurately, in most cases) that other teams are doing it, too. The problem for the league is that the injury reports aren’t designed to encourage strategic glasnost, but to keep dudes with multiple gold chains and only one eyebrow from thinking that there’s inside information to be acquired, for the right price. In this regard, the league office is walking a tightrope. The individual teams care more about preserving their ability to win than eradicating the potential influence of gamblers. And so if the league office pushes too hard, the league office faces a backlash from its constituents. Likewise, because so many teams are violating the letter and/or the spirit of the rules, picking on one team would be unfair to the rest. The other reality is that nailing folks who cheat in connection with the injury report will only highlight the fact that there’s a potential benefit arising from the pursuit of inside information. So, consequently, the league’s only viable option -- absent a radical overhaul of the rules -- is to pretend that the current system is working. Even if it isn’t.