NFL has a dilemma over undisclosed Le’Veon Bell injury

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One week after Seahawks coach Pete Carroll admitted that the team had failed to disclose a knee injury suffered during the season by cornerback Richard Sherman, the Steelers have acknowledged the failure to disclose a groin injury to running back Le’Veon Bell.  Unlike the Seahawks, however, the Steelers have stopped short of admitting that Bell’s injury required disclosure under the league’s injury report policy.

It was no coincidence that coach Mike Tomlin, in admitting that he knew about Bell’s groin injury, said that the injury “wasn’t significant.” Tomlin specifically was staying on the right side of the injury reporting policy.

The injury report policy specifically requires the disclosure of only “significant or noteworthy injuries” on the Practice Report. So the argument from the Steelers would be that, because Bell’s injury was not “significant,” it didn’t need to be disclosed.

Here’s the problem with that argument. Bell had been missing practice time. Each of the three Wednesdays before the team’s playoff games, Bell didn’t practice. Last Thursday, he missed practice for “personal reasons.”

The circumstances put the league office in a tough spot. If Bell missed no practice time, the folks at 345 Park Avenue could say, “The injury wasn’t significant, and Bell participated in all practices and games.” Since Bell missed four of nine practices over a three-week period with the “not injury related” designation at a time when Bell had a groin injury, the league will have a hard time burying its head in the sand on this one.

The availble evidence suggests that the “management” of Bell’s injury included giving him days off that deliberately were characterized as “not injury related” in order to conceal the injury. Without exploring the situation in further detail, there’s no way to know the truth.

But any investigation would expose just how easy it is to fudge the injury reports, something that pretty much every team does at one time or another, justified in part by the belief that everyone else is doing it, so we may as well do it, too.

Bottom line? The league would prefer to stay out of the injury report rabbit hole, because eventually it will become too clear to too many people that cheating on the injury report is widespread. The problem is that, between the Seahawks last week and the Steelers this week, the NFL may have no choice but to wallow in the reality that the hiding of injuries happens a lot more frequently than the average fan realizes.

87 responses to “NFL has a dilemma over undisclosed Le’Veon Bell injury

  1. SO what you telling me is 2 teams that have long histories now of winning have both recently cheated. hhhmmm maybe there is a lesson there

  2. It happens all the time. They previously tried to regulate it, and then a bunch of teams seemingly listed half their roster a probable, while never missing games. So, they got rid of that, and now don’t like unreported injuries that did not force players to miss any games. If not for such a worry about sports betting, this wouldn’t be an issue.

  3. He set franchise records in the first 2 playoff games for rushing yards. It’s not uncommon for teams to give their workhorses extra time off in the beginning of the week especially when your upcoming game plan is going to lean on him for 30-35 touches.

  4. ” Bell’s injury was not “significant,” it didn’t need to be disclosed.”

    Right, that’s why he was in for only 6 plays.

    Oh Rooney is the owner? Move along people, nothing to see here.

  5. In 2002 I think it was, the league fined Belichick and the Pats each 25k for not disclosing a tiny cut to the hand of a receiver. It was literally about 1/8″ – 1/4″ long, the equivalent of a shaving cut and in no way impeded the receiver from playing.

    Based on that precedent Tomlin and the Steelers should each be fined. It does not matter if the injury “wasn’t significant”. And its why to this day Belchick puts anyone on the injury report if they even look funny much less have a real injury.

    The real problem is once again the league has escalated a finable offense to taking a draft pick from the Seahawks. If they now don’t take one from the Steelers the continue to demonstrate the clear favoritism and double standards that apply to the Jets, Giants, Steelers, Ravens and Donks who all get passes on things like this regularly while other teams get beaten up for them.

  6. Normally I would say no big deal, who cares. But isn’t it time the NFL held everyone else to the same punishment standards? If the Pats had done this, they’d have thrown the book at them. There’s nothing wrong with managing an injury. But when Brady missed several Wednesday practices because of his knee, they specifically disclosed on the report, DNP/knee. When the same thing happened to Bell, the steelers designated it DNP, not injury related. Not fully disclosing injuries may give a competitive advantage. I have to call BS if the league does nothing.

  7. It’s not the PATRIOTS,,nothing to see here,,move on..ignore it,,,just like the steelers footballs being low,,,and it was addressed by protocol,,with no penalty….

  8. The NFL and Goodell make things up as they go along. This should end one of two ways. Neither team should be penalized because the NFL’s policy seems too indefinite with no prescribed penalties for infractions. It provides the league and Goodell too much power to make things up as it goes along. Both teams should be treated the same even though the Steelers are a “favored” franchise where a coach can literally trip a player (Tomlin does great justice to being a Seattle “12”) and not get suspended (only $100K fine).

  9. I agree with the article thats a problem for the league. But if they are worried about things that damage their credibility its really the question of consistency thats killing them there. So whatever they do to these teams, it does have to be the same to each. And they also need to have it in alignment with what happens to the Colts for concealing Andrew Luck’s rib injury. (So far nothing because they are still after all this time ‘looking into it’)

  10. Doing one’s job properly shouldn’t be a dilemma. The league is supposed to keep all teams following all the same rules properly and in the same impartial way. If it’s a dilemma, perhaps the league office is lacking somehow.

  11. lol…Sherman’s was so “significant” that he never missed a single play in any game. Bell on the other hand couldn’t play at all. Hypocrisy. The NFL is a joke.

  12. Until they do away with the ridiculous injury report altogether, they had damned well better start enforcing infractions in a consistent manner.

    The Jets, Colts, Giants and Steelers, all get away with whatever they want to. Over and over.

    With people losing interest in the NFL at a rapid rate, the NFL needs to pull it’s crap together. I can’t see the NFL righting their ship under the moronic leadership of Goodell.

  13. But even they (ridiculously) thought the injury wasn’t significant (despite it’s recent significance), the injury was still noteworthy and thus had to be reported.

    Put it this way, if it was Belichick it would be national headline news, Kurt Warner crying on 60 minutes, people denying science exists, Bill Nye pointing at a skeleton, calls for Belichick to be banned and the team fined $2M and several more picks….

    But instead it is Tomlin. And yet Tomlin got off lightly for tripping, not investigated for Deflategate II (a joke, I know – but then Deflategate I was a joke yet Pats still got railroaded for it in a multimillion dollar fraud by Park Ave), and Tomlin got off completely for breaking integrity rules THREE TIMES in the past 2yrs (falsely claiming the Pats messed his phones in 2015, falsely claiming that the Pats goal-line shift was improper in 2015, and calling the Pats a-holes in 2017).

    And the team got another free pass in 2016 when the NFL failed to fully investigate the Al Jazeera report despite Al Jazeera doubling down on it’s claims after the initial NFL response, saying they had additional recordings backing up its report, and despite baseball properly investigating and suspending a player. Again, if the Al Jazeera report had made claims about the Pats, what do you think the league would have done?

  14. The NFL won’t do anything to Pittsburgh. They have always been above reproach. Meanwhile the league couldn’t suspend Tom Brady fast enough because he wins more than anyone else and tried to get the suspension to take effect before the Steelers / Pats opener in 2015. That was no coincidence considering they set the schedule and the suspension.

  15. Don’t underestimate the NFL’s ability to “bury its head in the sand.” Especially when folks like the Rooneys, Maras and Bisciottis are involved.

    OTOH, the Pats would be losing next year’s No.1 draft pick…SMH

  16. What do you suppose the response would have been had the Pats not listed a player as injured?

    There would have been outright Armageddon.

    And now your telling me the league may just ‘wallow” in this?

    You know how to make a New England fan (more) bitter.

  17. Could you IMAGINE if this were the Patriots and they were heading to the Superbowl? This would be NATIONAL news and deflategate 2.0 all over again. But, alas its the Steelers and will be swept under the rug. Thanks, Goodell.

  18. How could you make an argument that the previous two weeks he must’ve been injured when he set franchise records back to back for playoff rushing yards?

    Like all three weeks he had Wednesday off and practiced Friday. The difference was the last Thursday when he was off and in Pittsburgh there were reports he was about to become a father.

  19. Prediction: Seahawks get hammered, Steelers get a pass. In keeping with the Rooney/Mara/Jones favoritism shown by the league offices.

  20. Not only did they not disclose the injury but Tomlin even went so far as to declare Ben, Brown and Bell HEALTHY for the first time ever for the playoffs.

    that’s not non-disclosure. That is a flat out lie.

  21. No they don’t. He doesn’t play for New England, so what’s the issue?

    While Goodell and his goons were finding new ways to embarrass themselves day after day with lies and story changes during the fabricated Deflategate fairy tale, Roger said, “Rules were broken and there is a price to pay.”


    In 2015, the Colts admitted that they hid Luck’s broken ribs and lacerated kidney from the injury report. No penalty.

    Seattle admitted hiding Sherman’s injury from the report. No penalty.

    Pittsburgh admits hiding Bell’s injury from the report. you guessed it… No penalty.

    This blatant favoritism of not punishing the guilty and crucifying teams that you know are innocent is the biggest reason people are abandoning the NFL in droves!

  22. You’re assuming that the league actually cares about its players or their injuries. The entire reporting protocol and player “safety” measures are a joke – nothing more than window dressing to ease public opinion.
    ie: like a player taking a hit to the head, unable to get up or recall his name, then he only misses one play.

  23. Deflated footballs, failure to report injury. Steelers just rubbing it in the face of Goodell.

    Rooney’s are apparently untouchable.

    Tomlin, time to attempt to trip another player.


  24. “It was no coincidence that coach Mike Tomlin, in admitting that he knew about Bell’s groin injury, said that the injury “wasn’t significant.” Tomlin specifically was staying on the right side of the injury reporting policy.”

    Yeah right Tomlin……

    Bell….6 carries for 20 yards……Yeah I can see this WASN’T SIGNIFICANT had NO IMPACT IN THE GAME……


  25. Someone once criticized New England for listing Tom Brady and others on the injury report each week. They claimed they were cheating or some such. Now you can see why Bill would report every little hang nail because if he didn’t the NFL would hang him….but other teams won’t get hung for blatant omissions.

  26. There used to be a requirement to disclose any player either receiving treatment or being rested for cause. Hence the Hoodie listing guys as probable due to a hangnail. In eliminating the probable designation did they do away with that and change the language to the deliberately murky “significant or noteworthy injuries” disclosure requirement?

  27. The NFL has a big problem if all its good teams are forced to cheat in order to win. The red tape , incredible number of flags per game, lack of a developmental league and the frustration of teams and fans not knowing the rules ( what’s a catch? What’s OPI, what’s DPI, bla bla bla) . It’s why ratings are down. We have 15 good NFL QBS.

  28. The League will brush it under the rug like it did the ball deflation issues in Giants v. Steelers.

  29. The NFL and its advertisers want to know why the popularity of the “sport” is declining. Perhaps it’s the favoritism, idiotic penalties, rampant breaking of rules, inconsistent penalties, intentional disregard of science, pampered owners with an inflated idea of their own importance…. The “Shield” has become synonymous with unjustifiable discrimination in application of rules to pander to losing franchises. Fans feel the same and it has finally poisoned the golden goose thanks largely to Roger Goodell and the jealousy of childish billionaires. The NFL can either restore the penalties assessed against the Pats (never going to happen as it would require the NFL to admit its error) or they can continue to be hoisted on their penalties for imagined rule violations. The double standard in penalties is caused by the competitive imbalance caused by Belichick and Brady which is at the heart of this silliness. The game will suffer and the credibility of the NFL leadership will continue to decline until the game becomes irrelevant. Even Jerry Jones can see that!

  30. Hmmmm… So a report that EVERYONE knows is bogus contains, or does not contain, the name of a player who may or may not belong on the report.

    Now we have rent garments, and worn enamel on our teeth over this?

    Who needs to know (oh yeah, Vegas)? Prep for your next game like you’re going to play the whole team, not just one player. It strikes me that this is a loophole for poor coaching.

    “Well, he was on the injury report so we didn’t expect him to HEAL.”

    The league is more WWE-like every day.

  31. To keep it fair I think the Seahawks and Steelers should be penalized for this stupid rule…..However, I don’t see how this impedes the competitive advantage to the team that chooses not to disclose an injury unless your playing a Greg Williams Defense #bountygate…..But again I’m for the Seahawks getting penalized for this and lose a second round pick! This is coming from a Seahawks fan.

  32. This was my exact point yesterday on earlier article where Tomlin said it “wasn’t significant enough to report”…

    Seattle will benefit because one week later the NFL’s beloved Steelers blatantly and equally violated same injury reporting rule… But we all know Roon is in Rog’s inner sanctum… This directly puts Rog and all his “integrity” talk in a bit of a bind…

    Clearly Tomlin is in CYA mode on this – and clearly Bell’s groin injury was why he was held out of practice… This situation more than warrants league office attention (aka Wells investigation…)

    If the Steelers don’t want to accept responsibility on this obvious deception, than let the Wells Investigation commence… to start, hand over your phones Mikey, Le’von, and Steeler trainers so the world can see all your text messages… let’s see how well they cooperate with Theodore on that…

    In the end, the Steelers should be equally fined/punished as the Seahawks… My opinion is revoking a 2017 2nd Round Draft pick from both teams will send the message league wide and end the shenanigans around deceptive injury reporting… But, in the end, this will probably have a similar result to Rog’s pal Mara’s ridiculous walkie-talkie penalty – downgrade end of 4th round pick but not more than 12 picks lower than where they would of picked joke of a penalty since it’s his other good pal Roon…

    to me, this is a big story as it relates to Rog’s mantra of protecting the “integrity” – keep on this one Mike!!!!

  33. It is more probable than not that nothing will happen to the Stealers even though they have shown themselves to be willing to play outside of the rules. re tripping, underinflated footballs etc…

  34. The Seahawks will get dinged a pick because their coach was once a Patriots coach. And the hatred for the Patriots at the NFL head office runs that deep.

    Tomlin will be given a stern email not to do it again.

  35. NFL selective punishment league needs to grow up and treat all franchises equally. If this were the Pats we’d be seeing fines and loss of more picks….but not the Rooney owned Steelers who is one of the leagues ring leading owners. Trump should start an investigation and clean this mess up. Goodell is just a stooge, said it then saying it now….he gets paid big bucks to do what several owners want. Kraft must feel like he’s on an island all by himself.

  36. Seems like the Steelers found a loophole if Bell was really resting a “significant” injury. There’s no real way to prove it. The system is not clear and no one really cares anyway except maybe Vegas (which the NFL would deny). If they are punished it would be another pointless move by the NFL. It always seemed strange to me that gambling supersedes HIPPA in sports.

  37. Seattle is a very competitive team therefore they will be penalized. The league probably figures that having Mike Tomlin as a coach is penally enough for the Steelers.

  38. gohawks827 says:
    Jan 25, 2017 9:44 AM

    Not the patriots or Seahawks? It’s ok #integrity
    A Seahawk fan siding with the Patriots? And they said it couldn’t be done. Kumbaya my lord, kumbaya.

  39. When teams hold this info back, and let the Patriots have to design a game plan around the perception of a healthy, game changing player, how is this not “cheating”. How is this even remotely more insignificant to the general public than, MAYBE deflating a ball (andthen immediately continue on in the exact same manor and right back in the Super Bowl). Please, somebody explain this to me?

  40. “I have great admiration and respect for Tom Brady, but the rules have to be enforced on a uniform basis and they apply to everybody in the league. They apply to every club, every individual coach, every individual player and that is something where we put the game ahead of everybody. One of the primary responsibilities for the commissioner is to protect the integrity of the game and to do what’s right for the game of football. That’s my job. I made this clear at Super Bowl. It’s our job to determine if there are violations of our rules, of our policies, of our procedures, and to enforce those. It’s my job here to make sure we protect the integrity of the game and we are protecting our policies, our procedures.”

    -Roger Goodell on Deflategate.


  41. The Steelers and Seahawks situations are far from analogous. Seattle and Carroll obviously have a history of playing fast and loose with league policy in order to get a leg up, there’s no room for justifying cutting them any slack. When you have a pending punishment for it and you do it again you deserve whatever you get. Pittsburgh on the other hand has a history of their HC having no clue what’s going on, so they do have that in their favor when they argue for clemency.

  42. Karma for the Steelers. They knew damn well Bell was injured but didn’t want the Patriots to know. Not like it made any difference.

  43. “The Steelers and Seahawks situations are far from analogous. Seattle and Carroll obviously have a history of playing fast and loose with league policy in order to get a leg up, there’s no room for justifying cutting them any slack.”

    Other than the Steelers have a long and storied history of “playing fast and loose with league policy in order to get a leg up” you might have something there.

  44. Good grief. That Steelers franchise is falling apart.

    Lying, cheating, AB crying, Ben leaving…

  45. Sherman never missed a practice or a game.

    Yet somehow, they are being investigated for concealing a serious injury, while Bell’s injury “isn’t serious” and he missed practices and games because of it.

    I suck at math, but even I can tell this doesn’t add up.

  46. bonitalocal says:
    Jan 25, 2017 8:57 AM
    Until they do away with the ridiculous injury report altogether, they had damned well better start enforcing infractions in a consistent manner.

    The Jets, Colts, Giants and Steelers, all get away with whatever they want to. Over and over.

    The Giants do???? I guess nothing ever came of that walkie fiasco, o wait something did $150k fine and have to pick last in the 4th round after ALL the supplemental picks too.

  47. rtookey says:
    Jan 25, 2017 10:39 AM
    When teams hold this info back, and let the Patriots have to design a game plan around the perception of a healthy, game changing player, how is this not “cheating”. How is this even remotely more insignificant to the general public than, MAYBE deflating a ball (andthen immediately continue on in the exact same manor and right back in the Super Bowl). Please, somebody explain this to me?
    The Steelers had every intention of working Bell to the bone in this game. They were not disguising an injury so that they can slip in DeAngelo Williams to throw off the Patriots game plan. If anything, they would have overplayed the injury to make the Patriots prepare for Williams instead. Does an injured player usually carry the ball 60 times for 340 yards in 2 games?

  48. They are at it again: Pittsburgh’s trolls crying on every thread, your team just got pancaked on national tv and you are suffering a crisis of anti patriots hysteria,your wishful thinking is not going to make you feel better.

  49. Geez are pats fans whiny. Your head coach should’ve been lifetime banned after stealing 3 Super Bowls, and you act like you are victims. 45 of the 53 players on a roster will be nursing some injury by the playoffs. Players play through injuries all the time. How often do players get surgery in the offseason to clean up knees or shoulders? Unless it’s a concussion, it’s fine to play a player if they can go. Players used to, and probably still do, get cortisone shots before big games. But, that’s how pats fans are. They run a 7 year conspiracy, and then call other teams as cheating over holding penalties.

  50. Let’s investigate the Super Bowl teams to make sure none of their players are working through any pulled or achy muscles. Then, any player with a bruise should be benched. Maybe that will silence these whiners.

  51. sixpackgroin says:
    Jan 25, 2017 9:44 AM
    Hawks, Pats need to confer with NE. They are absolute pros at concealing stuff they shouldn’t.


    The Pats ARE NE. Just fyi.

  52. Unless it’s the Patriots, let’s not make mole-hills into mountains.
    This is why all talk about asterisks and cheating is so empty and suspect.

  53. Integrity-doing the right thing even when no one is looking because it is the right thing to do.

    The NFL can’t even do the right thing when everyone is looking. NFL= Zero Integrity

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