We were ready to move on from the whole Ben Roethlisberger Super Bowl non-injury injury thing.  But then we heard from Peter King of this morning.
King wanted to talk for a few minutes regarding our stated discomfort with the Steelers’ failure to disclose Roethlisberger’s rib/back condition on the injury report for the week of the Super Bowl.
He explained that he believed the Steelers didn’t need to disclose the injury, but he wanted to give me a chance to state my case.
So I did.  And he included a quote from me in his Tuesday edition of MMQB:  “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.”
Not surprisingly, the league disagrees with me on this.
Here’s what NFL spokesman Greg Aiello said by e-mail on Monday:  “Ben’s injury was disclosed in the required injury report the week prior to the Super Bowl.  He was listed throughout that week with a back injury.  The reports that week said he did not practice on Wednesday and fully practiced on Thursday and Friday.  He was then listed on Friday as probable for the Super Bowl with a back injury.
“The Steelers then fully cleared him to practice and play and he was not listed on the [Super Bowl] week injury report.  We also have a pool reporter procedure for Super Bowl week.  A PFWA-appointed reporter attends every practice session of each team to report on the physical condition of the players.  AFC pool reporter Peter King reported throughout the week that Ben fully practiced and ‘looked sharp.’  There was no doubt as to Ben’s availability.  Then, of course, he played the entire game.”
Aiello summed up the league’s position in a subsequent message.
“The injury report procedures require clubs to disclose injuires in a general sense (knee, back, shoulder, etc.), report on practice participation, and provide an estimation of the players’ availability,” Aiello wrote. “The Steelers did all of that.”
So the league’s position, as articulated by Aiello, confirms that the injury report focuses solely on availability, not effectiveness.
But is that enough?  Consider this quote:  “We should have an honest assessment of a player’s condition before the game, because if a team doesn’t acknowledge a player is hurt and the injury will be a factor in the team’s performance, inside information could influence the betting line and potentially compromise the integrity of the game.”
The quote speaks not just to availability but to effectiveness.  And we agree with it completely.
But the quote comes from King, who believes that Roethlisberger’s full participation in practice and the team’s certainty that he would play excused the Steelers from disclosing the condition.
Let’s track the language of the quote.  In this case, Roethlisberger was hurt.  In the days preceding the Super Bowl, the Steelers didn’t acknowledge the injury.  If Roethlisberger had taken a hard shot to the midsection, the injury could have been a major factor in the team’s performance.  Thus, inside information could have influenced the betting line and potentially compromised the integrity of the game.
And that continues to be our primary concern — the integrity of the game.
The reality, however, is that the individual teams are more concerned about competitive advantage or, more importantly, disadvantage.  If, as it appears, the Steelers took pains to conceal the fact that Roethlisberger received an X-ray on his ribs and that, as Roethsliberger said, “I knew all along there was something wrong,” they did so in order to prevent the Cardinals from targeting his midsection early and often, in the hopes of knocking him out of the game.
It appears, then, that the NFL is striking the delicate balance between the integrity of the game and notions of competitive disadvantage by making the injury report an issue of availability only, not of effectiveness and/or potential for aggravation.
Thus, there’s a loophole in the injury report.  A player can be injured, and his team can avoid reporting it.
And, consequently, there’s an incentive for folks inclined to place and/or accept wagers, legal or otherwise, to attempt to develop relationships aimed at getting to the truth.
For the good of the game, we can only hope that the league has put sound systems in place for ensuring that such efforts will be unsuccessful, because such efforts if successful can do serious and permanent damage to the sport we love.


  1. As we all know ….. The integrity of the game GLOUGH>>>>>>>>in the toilet.. As long as there is competition in sports there will be some sort of cheating. ala AROD. The Steelers did nothing wrong. Ben wanted the same thing Ben did . A CHAMPIONSHIP ! He didnt take any HGH to get there. I’m a Bills fan ….I wish we had a guy like that now . Kelly would have done the same !!!

  2. is there any one on this whoe freakin’ board who can tell me who the hell won the damn derrick thomas award? this is starting to piss me off.

  3. Then why is there a probable designation? Virtual certainty? Every one who isn’t questoinable, doubtful or out is a virtual certainty on Friday. Any one of them could get injured on Saturday or Sunday.

  4. I was just watching an episode of Star Trek on NetFlix, has anyone seen how they updated the graphics and effects? Looks pretty good.

  5. Jesus, Florio. Who’s the drama queen here?
    Screw Vegas. When the integrity of the game is considered, I’d be more concerned about a team gaining a tactical advantage by knowing that their opponent’s QB might have soft ribs come game time. Why not list the plays run in practice too? We wouldn’t want any surprises throwing off the morons who gamble themselves into the poorhouse.

  6. Unless the NFL wants to admit they’re in bed with Vegas, who really cares? It’s entertainment, and yes I am a huge football fan, but even I am not this naive.

  7. Wow. You definitely do not follow the NHL. Injuries there are almost always labeled as “undisclosed” if the team even wants to disclose them at all. They know damn well if they disclose exact injuries, players of opposing teams will target the injured guys. The culture of the NFL is no different. You should take NFL injury reports with a grain of salt, because no team is going to lay a blueprint out there for opposing teams to neutralize their players.

  8. Well, Florio is correct in saying that it is important for the integrity of the game for the Steelers to reveal at the very least that Ben had x rays on his back and ribs. Why shouldn’t a team reveal all their injuries. Football fans and sports fans in general are a funny lot. They get up in arms over A Rod, Rameiro (sp), McGuire and Bonds ruining the “integrity” of baseball and how these guys should not be in the HOF and all that junk, but it is ok for a football team to not disclose a member of the team is hurt? MMMMmmmkay.

  9. If the Pats did this with Tom Brady, Florio would have his knee pads strapped on ready to service the “almighty” Belicheat and praising him about how “genius” he is for doing the same exact thing. Florio I know you’re a professional blogger (if there is such a thing) but come on man keep SOME consistentcy to your arguements. Least you didn’t write another mancrush story about Cassel I’ll give you that
    A pile of dog crap > Florios Last word

  10. thank goodness you are not a defense attorney, you really try to beat a meaningless topic to no end. does it really matter that much. the guy was ready to play, not questionable, not probable, but definately playing. so
    why are you trying to make such a big deal of it? these injury reports are out there for the other teams to know what they might have to prepare for, not so another team can take a cheap shot at a players injured ribs or
    what have you. the cards knew that had to prepare to play Ben, the end!!

  11. Jesus, get off the soap box, Florio.
    Hey, I get it. I understand what you are saying about the injury reports, as you have continuously brought it up all season. But, the reality is, they do it. They are going to continue to do it. Really, I like football too much to get bent out of shape about this stuff.

  12. Give it a rest, dude. He practiced fully, and played the whole game, effectively.
    He didn’t look hurt to me during the game.
    The guy should have won the mvp.
    I say end of ‘controversy’, though I realize that as a lawyer, you’ll still keep looking for reasonable doubt to that verdict…

  13. So a player can be injured and not appear on the injury report… Seems like the genius’ of the league strike again.
    Based on that reasoning, I formally take back any shots I gave Dungy and Tomlin for not listing Manning and Roethlisberger on the injury reports. Seems like when they didn’t list them they were just complying with the league’s stance that the injury report focuses only on availability, not effectiveness.
    Also, if being injured means you don’t necessarily have to be on the Injury Report, then they should rename it to the “Availability Report”.
    Finally, a serious question for the league: What is the difference between a virtual certainty and a certainty that a player will play? I always thought virtual certainty meant that a player is slightly injured, but he will deal with whatever pain/discomfort he has. Certainty, to me, meant that the player is not injured. But now it seems that you don’t have to be healthy to be a certainty to play. So again, what is the difference between a certainty and a virtual certainty?

  14. Mike, you’re absolutely right on this one and the NFL would just as soon you forgot this ever happened.
    I cannot see how Aiello’s comments are correct. Greg Aiello’s words will come back to haunt him. If it was just about availability, why were the Patriots always reporting a shoulder injury for Brady (probable) when he was going to play every stinkin’ week? Even Bill B. knew to report that stuff. Aiello knows better and was blowing smoke.
    I like Peter King, but separate of his reputation of being soft on the players so he can get their cell phone numbers and talk to them while they’re on the bus heading to the airport for his MMQB, he was also the pool reporter that week for the Steelers practices. I wonder if he got too close to the Steelers and is feeling a bit protective of the team he got to know so well before Super Bowl XLIII.

  15. Four comments into a Steeler-related post and no maroon has yet posted something about the refs wearing black-n-gold?

  16. If you really care about the “integrity of the game” then go back and look at the very late, very cheap shot taken on Roethlisberger to cause this situation in the first place. And ask why there was no flag thrown on the play. But oh, I forgot, only the Steelers get the benefit of the calls, right haters?
    This isn’t the first time someone’s come down on a team for doing this — the Patriots took a lot of heat for playing fast and loose with the injury reports. Personally, I never understood why teams had to disclose anything in the first place. Really, whose business is it besides their own? And if you’re going to say it’s to prevent bookies from getting inside information — so what? If somebody inside the organization’s that crooked, they’re going to be passing along better information than the shmoes out there getting the watered-down news from the media. (Besides, I thought the league never admitted gambling went on in the first place.)
    I say dump the whole disclosure requirement period. It’s kind of like telling GM they better inform Ford of the defects in their new cars, before they roll off the assembly line.
    I’m with roadkill on every point above — just who is the real drama queen here dude? Let it die already.

  17. This reads more like an exclamation of validity than an actual issue with the injury report. “Look! Im debating with Peter King and Greg Aiello! See! Pretty cool, eh?”.
    Ben is a whiner. Teams fudge the injury report. Have we really learned anything new here?

  18. Yep, Florio’s website must have been running low on hits again….time to post another article about Roethlisberger and the Steelers.
    Why isn’t he just as concerned as to why Fitzgerald wasn’t listed on any of the Cardinals injury reports after he admitted at the Pro Bowl that his hands had been hurting him throughout the playoffs?

  19. This is the worst reporting of a non-story ever. Talk about beating a dead horse. That is a minute that I will never get back.

  20. “And, consequently, there’s an incentive for folks inclined to place and/or accept wagers, legal or otherwise, to attempt to develop relationships aimed at getting to the truth.”
    That will always be true no matter what. Maybe a QB had a bad night and a janitor who has a relationship with the QB hears about this (something the media would likely not hear about) and could pass that info to betting interests. Or maybe a team captain MLB just found out that his wife is angry at him and he could be distracted. There are degrees at which this sort of thing may have any impact whatsoever but some may and so having an insider on a team would always be an advantage for a betting interest and therefore could lead to corruption.
    In other words, this stuff can happen anyway.
    I’m not saying that teams shouldn’t be required to disclose injuries, just that there doesn’t need to be an extremely strict rule for it since it can’t prevent what it’s trying to prevent anyway.

  21. Florio, are you sure your primary concern is with the integrity of the game, and not the integrity of betting on the game?

  22. You are blowing this situation way out of proportion. It is why you aren’t really taken serious as a journalist, because you act like little stupid shit matters just because its a slow news day. You are a hollow shell of a journalist who will sell out at every turn. The only reason I come here is because its free and you are fast… thats why anyone comes here.

  23. How does a team forecast effectiveness?
    How many other players had injuries which didn’t risk their availability but were painful and required treatment and by your standard should be reported?

  24. Florio, you are absolutely right…if such information was available, it would be less likely for someone to incorrectly report that a player was dead.

  25. Just another example of cheating and collusion between the NFL and the Pittsburg game-Stealers.
    Hang your heads in shame, Stealer fans.
    The asterisks are mounting.
    @4QU2PATS – Kelly would have lost the game.
    And 4QU2

  26. Maybe the Packers should have reported Max McGee was shitfaced too.
    Integrity? Why don’t you talk about the millions extorted for new coliseums for the NFL ripped off from taxpayers?
    This game’s business management has little integrity.
    I don’t think of integrity when I see Roger Goodell, quite honestly.

  27. integrity of the game my ass. Ask the Cardinals if they had a choice, would they choose the disclosure of this injury over Rooney paying off the refs?
    Ask Goodell where the integrity is in that?

  28. There should be a box that lists your favorite team next to your name, it would help drown out some of the noise from fanatics vs. regular fans.
    I agree with Florio that inside information and who has it can compromise the game. Most people thought the line to the game should have been higher. The popular reason that most people thought the game stayed low was people were jumping on the Card’s bandwagon. What if that wasn’t the case, and the line makers in Vegas knew that Ben had a Rib injury, and that it would hamper Ben’s play AND change the way Pittsburgh called the game (even more running to protect Ben.)
    As Florio has stated, giving 10k to a locker room guy is peanuts compared to the money that is bet on the game. The real issue regarding integrity of the game, comes when instead of slipping 10k to a locker room manager a player racks up a huge debt and a player can pay it off by tanking a game.

  29. The Steelers knew he was hurt and didn’t list him on the report, what a bunch of cheaters!!!! Flat out, they cheated, take away their 1st round draft pick!!!!!

  30. You are missing the whole point Florio. If the Steelers had “disclosed” the injury Ben would have been much more likely to take that “hard shot” to the ribs. That is just the nature of the game and that is what the NFL wants to avoid.
    The Steelers obfuscated (I hope I didn’t botch that Emmit style) the condition of Hines Ward as well. But anyone with a brain knew he would be “limited” some how. In the same way everyone knew Ben had so many other injuries to the shoulder and whatnot that a little extra discomfort in his back or ribs or whatever would be like a drop in the ocean and wouldn’t affect the game at all. And lo and behold, it did not affect the game at all.
    The system, such as it is, may not be perfect but has been working itself out pretty darn well. So with all due respect I think you should climb down off you’re high horse just a bit on this issue. For what it’s worth I agree with Peter King’s stance.

  31. I am not sure which side I am on, but if the Cardinals knew of Ben’s injury, would you expect them to target him for a few extra hits?
    The bottom line is that if there is an injury that could affect play, then it should be reported. Obviously, Ben’s injury didn’t affect his play.
    For everyone else bashing Florio, it is his job to dig up things to report. Even if you don’t like the subject.

  32. Anyone who listens to Peter King is a moron. Peter King is NOT a football writer. He is a a name-dropping groupie who should be writing for People not SI. He has a huge man-crush on Big Ben, since he was spurned by his first two man-loves, Favre and Brady.

  33. Did Aiello confirm whether this rule applied to other teams or just the Steelers?
    The injury reporting in the NFL is a joke anyway. Smart teams routinely make a mockery of it and the league lets them get away with it.

  34. I also heard that Casey Hampton had a distended stomach, Limas Sweed had a hangnail, and Larry Foote had a small bruise on his shin.
    Get after it Florio!

  35. But his effectiveness wasn’t limited. He dove headfirst toward the endzone, was crushed between his center and two Cardinal defenders, and then lifted into the air by his right tackle. If his ribs were a problem, I’m sure that play would have aggravated the pain.
    This is absolutely stupid. He was on the report the week before. He practiced 100% the week of the game. Had an X-ray that showed no damage, and most importantly he played in the game without limitation.
    Besides, who the hell is going to place a bet based on the fact that there is a slight chance that a player might aggravate an injury that didn’t knock him out of the game in which it originally happened?

  36. Though Florio makes a salient point (i.e., leaving a crack in the door that could be exploited with inside information could compromise the integrity of the game), I respect the position – but disagree in part.
    Why? Because the analysis fails when assessed through an overall cost-benefit breakdown. Slippery slope arguments aside, let’s look at the Super Bowl as a primary example.
    Do we really want the Docketts, Wilsons and Dansburys of the world knocking out a feature player on the first series of the game knowing it’ll only cost the Cardinals 15 yards?
    Do you think advertisers would dig that either with $3,000,000 invested every thirty seconds of air time?
    More importantly, do we think the fans – encompassing a global audience of hundreds of millions, would really appreciate such a crude tactic polluting the great Super Bowl?
    That would look great years down the road when the next “America’s Game XLIII” summation starts with the assigned narrator says, “The Steelers remarkable season took a big hit when Adrian Wilson blew up Big Ben’s ribs on a cheap shot – the Cardinals were assessed 15 yards, but the investment was well spent…..”
    In this particular instance – it’d’ve been bad for fans, bad for the game, bad for advertisers, and bad for the legend and lore factor. Those are very heavy costs relative to worrying about gambling insiders – which are forced to penetrate a number of other safeguards to NOT get access to inside information.
    P.S. And on a another different yet positionally aligned angle, that “inside info” of knowing Ben may have been more susceptible to re-injury than not had to be known by the Cardinals to be intentionally exploited. There is no evidence such was the case.

  37. The Cardinals obviously did the same thing with Fitzgerald, not disclosing the hand injuries he so happily went on about at the Pro Bowl. Now, then, this brings up two questions:
    1. Where is the outrage, the cries of cheating, directed at the Arizona Cardinals for not disclosing his injury?
    2. Where are all the “Larry Fitzgerald is a drama queen” commentaries on the PFT site?

  38. tj.52 says:
    February 11th, 2009 at 6:31 am
    Just another example of cheating and collusion between the NFL and the Pittsburg game-Stealers.
    Hang your heads in shame, Stealer fans.
    The asterisks are mounting.
    @4QU2PATS – Kelly would have lost the game.
    And 4QU2
    You do know the Cardinals did the same thing right? They reported after the Pro-Bowl that he had been playing with a broken thumb and torn cartilage in his left hand all through the playoffs, yet he hadn’t been on an injury report for it since early November….hmmmmmmm. At least the Steelers actually had Ben on the injury report for his back the week before the Superbowl. Do you think the Cardinals needed a personalized memo from Ben saying “My back is killing me, please hit me here”.
    The only people who should hang their heads in shame are silly whiners like yourself. Steeler fans don’t hang their heads in shame, they hold them up proudly while pointing and laughing at silly idiots such as yourself.

  39. You’re a putz. You are overly concerned about semantics when the league guidelines on injury reporting were followed to the letter, yet, you poo-poo the CHEATING which was done by the N.E Cheatriots, and continually harped that it wasn’t a big deal. If you were TRULY concerned about the integrity of the game, then CHEATING, which N.E and coach Belicheat were caught at, would naturally rise to a higher level than your interpretation of a clear guideline that the NFL itself has said was followed correctly. I guess that’s why you’re a lawyer.

  40. SteelerGal — ask tj what loser team he’s a fan of. Then you’ll see someone hang his head in shame.
    Keep on squealing like pigs haters! Music to the championship ears!

  41. Wow – so this is what it looks like when the cry baby nancy boy from high school who used to get thrown into the girls bathroom by football players between classes pretends he knows football.
    my wife read this article and even she thought it was gay. seriously.
    cant wait for the article on the “best and worst dressed” at the pro bowl
    its amazing how much this douchebag will write just to name drop

  42. @Steelergal & Burns:
    Why is it that all of a sudden bending the rules, breaking the rules and a perceived pro-your-team bias in the biggest game of the year doesn’t matter?
    Is it because it’s YOUR team being criticized?
    Yeah, I’m sure you were right there defending the Patriots last year when they were being accused of everything from videotaping to baby snatching. Please. You were sitting at your keyboards with a schwarmy smirk on your face loving every minute of it. I’m sure you even piled on when given the opportunity.
    So call me names, call my team a loser or whatever, I can take it. Just don’t get all holier than thou self righteous on me. Your team cheated, by definition, and your team broke the rules. Deal with it.
    Then deal with the asterisk, because it’s not going away.

  43. One very big difference on the distribution of asterisks there tj: the NFL CAUGHT N.E. cheating, fined the team abd fined the coach. Clearly, this is something your team will always be associated with. Converesly, in the Roethliberger issue that lawyer-boy keeps harping on, the NFL has said the rules were followed. To summarize, you sound like the biggest of crybabies, due, no doubt, to the shame you must endure in any discussion of professional football.

  44. tj.52 says:
    February 11th, 2009 at 12:49 pm
    @Steelergal & Burns:
    Why is it that all of a sudden bending the rules, breaking the rules and a perceived pro-your-team bias in the biggest game of the year doesn’t matter?
    Is it because it’s YOUR team being criticized?
    Yeah, I’m sure you were right there defending the Patriots last year when they were being accused of everything from videotaping to baby snatching. Please. You were sitting at your keyboards with a schwarmy smirk on your face loving every minute of it. I’m sure you even piled on when given the opportunity.
    So call me names, call my team a loser or whatever, I can take it. Just don’t get all holier than thou self righteous on me. Your team cheated, by definition, and your team broke the rules. Deal with it.
    Then deal with the asterisk, because it’s not going away.
    Please show me where I said bending or breaking the rules were ok (if that is indeed what happened with the injury report). I’m simply pointing out that the Cardinals did the same exact thing.
    Why is that so hard for you and others to accept that?
    You can PRETEND there’s an asterisk next to the game all you want, but there’s not….point me to one Superbowl in history that has an actual asterisk next to it, and not something jealous fans put there in their minds. Guess what, there are none.

  45. Stealer fans are pathetic. You really can’t take it, can you? Guess what: the NFL CAUGHT PITT. CHEATING too. They admitted it! To somehow try and say that one breaking of the rules does not equal another is insulting to the collective intelligence of the readers of this site. Deal with the fact that your team broke the rules, and try to move on with your sad lives. The asterisk stays.

  46. Still waiting on that article concerning Fitzgerald’s broken thumb…….
    Oh…that’s right….nobody hates the Cardinals around here. I mean, how could really anyone hate the Cardinals….they haven’t won ANYTHING since WW2.
    The Steelers on the other hand…..
    I love the sound of Steelers hate in the evening…’s the sound of Victory.

  47. tj:
    I don’t think you read this story at all did you. How did the NFL catch Pitt cheating when they basically said they didn’t cheat?
    “The injury report procedures require clubs to disclose injuires in a general sense (knee, back, shoulder, etc.), report on practice participation, and provide an estimation of the players’ availability,” Aiello wrote. “The Steelers did all of that.” – Greg Aiello, NFL spokesman
    And again I’ll ask you, why is it do you think, that everybody is up in arms over BR not being on the injury report, yet nobody seems to care about Fitz and his hand injuries not even being mentioned on an injury report since early November. Could it be because they never questioned his availability?

  48. Oh, but there are asterisks beside all of the Cheatriot superbowl wins, SteelerGal, because ALL of their superbowl wins came while Bill Belicheat was coaching err, cheating there. AND, as you’ve pointed out, Greg Aiello the NFL’s official spokesman, (yes, the same Greg Aiello who indeed said that N.E. cheated, was fined and their coach fined for it last year), Greg Aiello made the NFL’s official statement on this Roethlisberger issue, that NO RULES were broken, bent or otherwise manipulated.
    If you read the posts I’ve contributed to this forum, they have always been critical of the NFL, and their obvioous desire to turn pro football into an entertainment spectacle like professional wrestling. I’m not a homey for any team; I just hate what the NFL is becoming. In this case, however, the owner of the site is beating a dead horse that the NFL has officially stated is dead beyond recognition.

  49. If you think your team doesn’t try to take advantage of everything they can to give them an edge over the competition, then your are an idiot!! Don’t hate Belichick because he is a great coach, and don’t hate Ben cause he won a superbowl with cracked ribs. Anyone who watched the AFC Championship game could see that Ben had trouble breathing after the non call late hit by the ravens(yes the steelers get screwed by the refs too!!). I am sure the Cards were doing everything they could to get to Ben and hit him in the mid section. But like most defenses this year…they missed.

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