We continue to be amazed by the league office’s sudden interest in the failure of the Jets to include Brett Favre on the injury report last year.
For starters, the fact that Favre claims he played with a partially torn biceps tendon has been known for months. But it only became a problem this week, when Favre talked about it for the umpteenth time, suggesting for the first time that his arm was so bad that maybe he should have been benched.
The league’s sudden interest in taking action likely arises not from the reality that the Jets violated the rule but because the violation of the rule has become so damn obvious, thanks to Favre and his tendency to talk and to talk and to talk some more whenever he is asked a question.
Indeed, NFL spokesman Greg Aiello previously vouched for the Jets’ injury-reporting habits after it had been plainly established that Favre finished the 2008 season with a hidden injury.
“[W]e didn’t have a problem with the Jets as far as complying with the
rules,” Aiello said in June. “Some media get frustrated when you won’t go beyond what’s on
the injury report. But we don’t require more than that.”
Then again, the violation also was obvious during Super Bowl week. Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger secretly underwent X-rays in the days before the game. But Roethlisberger’s name didn’t appear on the game week injury report. After the Super Bowl, Roethlisberger told Peter King that he played with broken ribs.
As I thereafter told King, “My problem is the injury report focuses only on availability to play
without giving full information as to whether a player will be
effective. It’s called an injury report. Roethlisberger was injured,
and he wasn’t on the report. I think that’s wrong.”
So how is it that the Steelers didn’t get busted for Big Ben’s hidden injury, but that the Jets face scrutiny for the same thing?
Again, it has become so obvious this time around that the league had no choice but to act.
But I digress. The point of this post (and, yes, there is a point to it) is the uncanny ability of former Jets coach Eric Mangini to avoid blame for the injury-reporting shenanigans. Instead, G.M. Mike Tannenbaum nobly has taken the blame for conduct that we suspect Mangini dictated.
On Friday, Mangini (now the Browns coach) was asked about whether he’s handling the injury reports the same way he handled them in New York.
“The approach has really been consistent, from my perspective,” Mangini said. “We’re always going to try to work to follow the rules in the strictest fashion. That won’t change. I respect the rules and we’re going to follow the rules. . . .
“Again, there are a lot of different things, a lot of different rules that you look at it and you’re trying to do it the right way. That’s been the approach and it’ll stay the approach, to try to stay in the context and do it the right way. If you have questions, try to ask the questions to make sure that you’re doing it the right way.”
So, basically, Mangini is saying that the rules weren’t violated last year in New York, even though Tannenbaum already has conceded that they were.
For Mangini, it’s not about complying with the rules but about maintaining a competitve edge. Mangini didn’t want the Jets’ opponents to know that Favre was hurt, for the same reasons Mangini doesn’t want the Vikings to know who the starting quarterback will be on Sunday.
So Mangini, we suspect, was the root of the failure to be honest about Favre’s arm, and we think he should do the right thing and acknowledge his role in the violation of the rules.