The NFL has investigated the alleged cramp that Steelers receiver Emmanuel Sanders got at a convenient time in Week Seven against the Bengals, and the league’s conclusion is clear: Fake, fake, fake, fake.
Sanders has been fined $15,000 for faking an injury and the Steelers have been fined $35,000, the league confirmed today. In a letter to the Steelers and G.M. Kevin Colbert, NFL Executive Vice President of Football Operations Ray Anderson made it clear that the league office believes Sanders is lying when he claims that he suffered a cramp and had to leave the game for one play — at a time when the Steelers wanted to substitute for him but didn’t have time to do it without getting a delay of game penalty.
“Despite the account given by Sanders during our November 2nd meeting, neither the video sequence of the pertinent plays nor the observations of the on-field official support Sanders’s contention that he was in severe pain, either before, while falling to the ground, lying on the ground, or when he was being assisted in leaving the field,” Anderson wrote. “Moreover, after missing the one play that is mandatory pursuant to the playing rules, and receiving no apparent treatment, Sanders returned to the game for a fourth down punt, on which he out sprinted all of his teammates 26 yards down the field, arriving at the ball ahead of all other Pittsburgh players, and then downing 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. Sanders also played the rest of the game without difficulty. Finally, there is no indication that Sanders has had prior cramping issues while in the NFL, and no Steelers’ medical records or information of any kind were presented that would support a finding that he incurred a cramp that was both as serious and as transient as Sanders suggests.”
Anderson said in his letter that he had no evidence that the Steelers or their coaching staff encouraged the fake injury. If he did have any such evidence, Anderson said, the penalty would have been much more severe than a $35,000 fine.
Both Sanders and the Steelers have the right to appeal. They’d probably be wise just to accept their punishment and move on, accepting the fact that this punishment is not particularly harsh, considering how obvious it was that Sanders was faking.