NFL warns teams about faking injuries

September 21, 2011

The NFL cautioned teams in a memo Wednesday that it could impose disciplinary measures if players fake injuries during games in an attempt to gain a competitive advantage.

The league’s memo was sent by Ray Anderson, the NFL’s executive vice president of football operations, in the wake of a controversy over whether defensive players for the New York Giants faked injuries to slow down the St. Louis Rams’ no huddle offense during the Giants’ win Monday night. The league did not sanction the Giants.

The NFL’s memo Wednesday said that coaches, players and teams could be subject to disciplinary measures if the league determines that injuries are faked. Those measures could include fines, suspensions and the loss of draft selections, according to the league’s memo.

The memo said that if league officials determine there is “reasonable cause” to believe injuries have been faked during a game, those involved in the incident will be summoned to the NFL’s offices in New York to discuss the incident.

“Those found to be violators will be subject to appropriate disciplinary action for conduct detrimental to the game,” said the memo, copies of which were obtained by The Washington Post and other media organizations.

The NFL’s competition committee previously had urged cooperation by coaches so that injuries would not be faked during games for competitive reasons. But enforcement of the policy is difficult, people in the sport have said, because the league does not want on-field personnel to question the legitimacy of an injury to a player while a game is in progress.

“The Competition Committee has reviewed this issue several times, but has been reluctant to propose a specific rule, since assessing a charged timeout for every injury timeout would deprive a team of timeouts for strategic purposes,” the memo said. “It also could encourage injured players to remain in the game at risk to themselves to avoid incurring a charged team timeout.”

Mark Maske covers the NFL for The Washington Post.
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