Former Bears linebacker Brian Urlacher’s admission that his teammates used to fake injuries to slow down opposing offenses is an admission of a serious violation of league rules.
That’s the word from NFL Vice President of Officiating Dean Blandino, who sent all 32 teams a memo today, informing them that faking injuries can result in unsportsmanlike conduct penalties as well as severe discipline after the game for the players and coaches involved.
“We have instructed all officials to be on the alert for violations of this rule,” Blandino wrote in the memo, via ESPN.com. “Further, if it is determined by video review or other means available to the League office that defensive players are engaging in such practices, such players and their coaches may be subject to disciplinary action.”
It’s hard to see how an official can enforce the rule on the field. When an official sees a player go down, he doesn’t know whether that player is genuinely hurt or just faking, and he has to stop the clock and give the team’s training staff a chance to check the player out.
But the NFL absolutely can and should enforce the rule. If a defensive player goes down at a time when the offense is rushing to the line of scrimmage, then quickly returns to the game looking none the worse for wear, and if the same team repeatedly benefits from its defensive players having sudden injuries followed by quick recoveries, the league office has to know that player was faking. There should be no place for that in the NFL, and the NFL shouldn’t tolerate it.