By Danny Cox
One thing that isn’t tolerated in the NFL is when a player seeks out to purposely and maliciously injure another player. There is just no room for that in the league, and no room for it in humanity either. It appears that Roger Goodell and the NFL also don’t take kindly to those players or teams that play make believe and fake injuries.
The Pittsburgh Steelers and wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders were fined a total of $50,000 for faking an injury in the Oct. 21, 2012 game against the Cincinnati Bengals.
Sanders was fined $15,000 as an individual player and the Steelers were fined $35,000 as an organization.
During the game, which ended in a 24-17 win for Pittsburgh, the incident with the wide receiver happened in the fourth quarter. Sanders grabbed the back of his leg and collapsed to the ground in a heap.
Sanders was asked about the incident immediately by reporters, but he really just kind of shunned it and didn’t say much. Since then though, he has stated the “incident” was being handled internally.
The announcers of NBC’s Sunday Night Football went on to freely discuss Sanders’ “injury,” and they blatantly stated that they believed him to be purposely faking an injury. Their belief is that he was doing it so that the team could save a timeout.
NFL executive vice president of football operations Ray Anderson took the matter and accusations very seriously. He studied tape of the incident with the Steelers and Bengals, but believes that Pittsburgh was not faking injuries for competitive purposes.
“If I believed that to be the case, the discipline would be substantially more,” Anderson said. “Instead, it reflects the commissioner’s strong view that it is the responsibility of the club to insure that its players are familiar with and in compliance with the league’s competitive rules.”
Sanders sat out one play while a team trainer attended to his leg, and he returned one play later for a Pittsburgh punt. Anderson sent an open letter to Sanders and higher ups for the Steelers organization stating that video evidence shows that the injury wasn’t exactly true.
Anderson even noticed that Sanders outran all of his Steeler teammates on the punt play and downed the ball.
“The video of the play shows Sanders running swiftly and effortlessly toward the punted ball, and then leaving the field with no sign of discomfort,” Anderson wrote. “Sanders also played the rest of the game without difficulty.”
This is the first time that the NFL has handed out any sort of punishment for faking an injury. A memo was sent out to team general managers and coaches in September though that said, “The Competition Committee deprecates feigning injuries.” From that point, the NFL made it known again that they had the power to levy fines on players, coaches, or teams.
The league even said they would take away draft picks if they deemed necessary.
As stated earlier, the safety of players has been a huge issue with the NFL for many years now and is becoming more of a focus every season. They do not want to encourage those players with legitimate injuries to leave the field unnecessarily. Still, they don’t want to have injuries taken lightly, and will never condone a player faking like he is hurt for any reason whatsoever.
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Danny Cox knows a little something about the NFL, whether it means letting you know what penalty will come from the flag just thrown on the field or quickly spouting off who the Chicago Bears drafted in the first round of the 1987 draft (Jim Harbaugh). He plans on bringing you the best news, previews, recaps, and anything else that may come along with the exciting world of the National Football League. His work can be found on Examiner.com.