Anyone watching the game between the St. Louis Rams and New York Giants last Monday night witnessed two things — two mediocre teams, and Giants players that were willing to fake injuries to stop the clock.
The Rams went to a no huddle offense to keep the Giants defenders guessing, and it worked, so well in fact that the only thing the defense could think to catch a break was to poorly fake injury — not very sporting of a professional football franchise.
The comical moment happened early in the game as the Rams were just outside the redzone when two Giants players — safety Deon Grant and linebacker Jacquain Williams — dropped to the turf nearly simultaneously.
Williams abruptly stood up when he realized Grant was down at the same time. It’s notable that he looked completely un-scathed and relatively embarrassed.
Grant stayed down to force the injury timeout. New York’s defense received the break they were after and Grant was back out on the field the very next play.
The NFL is taking the matter very seriously, and rightfully so for the integrity of the game, sending out a memo today to all 32 teams warning of fines, suspensions and loss of draft picks if the league determines players actually faked injuries during a game.
Clubs are reminded of the following league policy which is stated in a Supplemental Note to Rule 4 (Game Timing), Section 5, Article 4, on page 19 of the Official Playing Rules:
“The Competition Committee deprecates feigning injuries, with subsequent withdrawal, to obtain a timeout without penalty. Coaches are urged to cooperate in discouraging this practice.”
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.
It also could encourage injured players to remain in the game at risk to themselves to avoid incurring a charged team timeout.
To avoid the necessity of a rule with many unattractive qualities, teams are strongly urged to cooperate with this policy.
We have been fortunate that teams and players have consistently complied with the spirit of the rule over the years and this has not been an issue for the NFL. We are determined to take all necessary steps to ensure that it does not become an issue.
Going forward, be advised that should the league office determine that there is reasonable cause, all those suspected of being involved in faking injuries will be summoned promptly to this office in New York to discuss the matter.
Those found to be violators will be subject to appropriate disciplinary action for conduct detrimental to the game. Discipline could include fines of coaches, players, and clubs, suspensions or forfeiture of draft choices
Luckily for the NFL this particular problem has never become a real issue. The Competition Committee so far have not created a rule against faking injuries that referee’s could use to declare if a player is actually injured or not to penalize teams accordingly.