The Jaguars gave the football-following world a major surprise when declaring, 90 minutes before Sunday’s kickoff, that rookie running back Leonard Fournette wouldn’t be playing. Fantasy owners scrambled to make changes, and gamblers who wagered money based on the expected presence of Fournette called Luck something other than a Lady. But the story was known in the locker room well in advance of Sunday at 11:30 a.m. ET.
Appearing on Wednesday’s PFT Live, Jaguars defensive lineman Calais Campbell said he knew about Fournette’s punishment “a couple days” before the game. Which raises a fair question — should a team that will be deactivating a starter be required to disclose the decision the moment the decision is made?
The league currently requires teams to make detailed injury reports three times before each regular-season game, with the unstated goal of giving gamblers a level playing field, or at least the perception of one. Shouldn’t teams be required to do the same thing if/when a coaching decision will take a key player off the field?
For now, there’s no rule requiring the information to be disclosed. This naturally creates inside information, and an incentive for those who wager big money to find ways to get it. Which isn’t good for anyone, except the gamblers.
When the Steelers decided to deactivate receiver Martavis Bryant, they didn’t squat on the information. While the Jaguars surely were hoping to catch the Bengals unprepared by holding the information as long as possible, broader concerns about the integrity of the game should compel teams to say what they know about a key player’s status, when they know it.