Mike Garafolo of NFL Media reports that the league issued a warning to the Seahawks for failing to disclose the Sherman injury. Per Garafolo, the NFL deemed the violation to be a result of a misinterpretation of the rules, given that Sherman fully participated in practice.
Here’s the first problem with that excuse for not issuing punishment: Sherman at times did miss practice, with the designation that the absence wasn’t injury related. For example, he didn’t practice the Thursday before the divisional-round loss to the Falcons. Sherman also didn’t practice on the Thursday before the wild-card win over the Lions. He also didn’t practice on the Thursday before the Week 16 game against the Cardinals.
There’s a second problem. By hiding the injury, the Seahawks shielded Sherman from having the injury “tested” by offenses that otherwise may have attempted to force him to move in various ways at various speeds to see what if any limitations he had. And the injury surely was “significant,” given that coach Pete Carroll disclosed it as part of an effort to excuse the prickliness that Sherman demonstrated at times during the latter stages of the season.
There’s one more problem with the Seahawks getting only a warning. On three occasions since 2012, the Seahawks have been caught violating offseason workout rules. Under the principle that allows penalties to be enhanced via the stacking of violations, the Seahawks arguably should have faced some consequence for committing another violation, even if it happened with respect to a different rule.
Perhaps the Seahawks would have faced a consequence, if the Steelers hadn’t stumbled into the same injury-report rabbit hole when running back Le’Veon Bell disclosed after the AFC title game that he’d been playing with an undisclosed groin injury. If the league office had whacked the Seahawks, the league office would have been required to whack the Steelers. So if the league office didn’t want to whack the Steelers, the league office had to look the other way on the Seahawks.
It sounds cynical, I know. But justice is often meted out at 345 Park Avenue by picking the preferred conclusion and working backward. In this case, it’s entirely possible that the preferred conclusion for the Seahawks was to issue only a warning because the preferred conclusion for the Steelers will be the same thing.