Wait, let me try that again.
Football is a game played by men. You know, like the kind of men who push each other around, run into each other at full speed, smack their heads against each other, break each other's bones and generally try to hurt each other for a living. It's a man's game, and it's definitely not supposed to resemble that other football played in Europe and South America that has guys (and gals) faking injuries at every opportunity.
Yet this week in the NFL, you may have been fooled into thinking you were watching Italian soccer.
The issues arose when no-huddle offenses befuddled defenses, and those defensive players who were getting worked had no option other than lying in a heap on the artificial turf. The grass wasn't the only thing that was fake, as the players writhed in pain for a minute or two, found their way to the sidelines and then re-entered the game a play or two later.
It was pathetic, and it's a growing problem.
You saw it Sunday afternoon in New England, and it was so blatant that Tom Brady actually stood over the "injured" Chargers players who were rather obviously doing all they could to slow down the offensive assault that was being handed to them.
Cheaters, of course, never win, so the fake injuries didn't prevent Brady from throwing for 423 yards and three touchdowns.
The rule in a no-huddle situation, in case you aren't aware, is that defenses cannot substitute players if the offense doesn't substitute players. So if the offense has some blatant mismatches, it won't need to make any substitutions, and the defense is left helpless. Its only options are to burn a valuable timeout or, well, start to "cramp up."
While it was bad in the Chargers-Patriots game, it was disgusting in the Giants-Rams game on national television Monday night. Just. Watch.
Now if that's not just the worst thing you've ever seen, then I don't want to know what else you've seen. Two guys — two guys!! — faked at the same time. If you're going to embarrass yourself, at least have the decency to coordinate with your teammates. Work some choreography into it, make it look nice. Do something, because that was awful.
Even worse: There's nothing in the rule book against it.
"No rule at all," wrote former head of NFL officiating Mike Pereira on Twitter, after he was asked if there is a rule against faking injuries. His explanation was that it's just too hard to determine if a player is faking.
And it is. For a referee or any official to try to make that judgment in the middle of a fast-paced game is impossible. Plus, what happens when a referee determines a player to be faking an injury, only to find out later that player had a torn ACL? It's just too murky to make such a call in the middle of the game.
Enter Roger Goodell. He's been bold since the day he assumed his position as commissioner, and he's doled out heavy punishments to anyone who's committed any sort of misdeed. With his league and the sport getting served some black eyes over the weekend, Goodell needs to monitor this situation closely. If a player is down and out, only to return to the game a few snaps later, that player deserves a call from the league office. And he deserves a fine.
If it requires an interview with the team's trainers, then so be it. If it requires Goodell perhaps getting one of these wrong, it'll still be worth it. When you have Sam Bradford visibily upset and Brady standing over an "injured" player, it just looks bad and it ruins the experience of watching a game. More importantly, it greatly impacts the competition. That Rams drive, during which they had gone 67 yards in seven plays, stalled out two plays later and ended in a field goal. Had the Rams scored 7 points instead of 3 and taken a 10-7 lead, the complexion of the game could have been completely altered.
You can't say that would or wouldn't have happened had Deon Grant not shown off the results of his summer diving program (the course took place in Montreal), but you know the guy was faking it.
That's a problem. Remember, this is a man's game, and if Goodell wants to keep it that way, he's going to have to speak up.
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