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By Shawn Muller-
(CBS) Longtime NFL coach Herman Edwards once said, “You play to win the game,” and I couldn’t agree with him more.
I don’t want to hear that “it doesn’t matter if you win or lose, it’s how you play the game” mumbo-jumbo we were taught as kids. Herman Edwards got it right.
You play to win the game, and if playing to win the game involves faking injuries to slow down an opposing offense, then so be it.
But that is just my opinion on the matter.
How does the NFL league office feel about it? A little differently than I do.
The league said Wednesday that it is going to start taking hard looks at the “stall-ball” strategy defenses are taking to slow down up-tempo offenses, with potential punishment for alleged offenders. According to reports, the NFL sent out a league-wide memo warning teams of potential fines, suspensions and even the loss of draft picks if faked injuries are found to have occurred.
So, where is this hard-line stance by the league office stemming from?
During the game Monday night between the St. Louis Rams and the New York Giants, there was speculation that Giants defender Deon Grant faked an injury during a first-quarter Rams drive so he could buy his team some time as the Rams marched down the field using a no-huddle offense.
Rams quarterback Sam Bradford said the Giants, “Couldn’t get subbed, they couldn’t line up. Someone said, ‘someone go down, someone go down,’ so someone just went down and grabbed a cramp.”
Like it or not Mr. Bradford — fair or unfair — the strategy worked. The referees called an injury timeout, the Giants defense got some much-needed rest and the Rams ended up kicking a field goal. Mission accomplished by Grant and the Giants. St. Louis kept kicking field goals, and New York went on to win the game, 28-16.
You play to win the game, remember?
The Giants did exactly what they needed to do to keep the Rams out of the end zone.
While it is “noble” of the league office to threaten punishments for violators, I just don’t see what the big deal is. I guarantee you that if you were to ask many of the players how they felt about the supposed “faking of injuries,” the majority of them would view it as a mere part of the game, Rams players included.
If it helps your team win, why would you care? Whatever it takes to win the game, right?
Not only that, but how does the league actually plan on enforcing the threats of punishment, anyway? If a player is “suffering” from cramps, how do you prove he wasn’t ailing after the game has already concluded? Are referees supposed to say to a player who is lying on the turf: “Hey get up! You aren’t hurt. Walk it off, rub some dirt on it. Do whatever you have to do, but we aren’t stopping the game to get you off the field.”?
I’m sorry, but SAYING a player is faking an injury is much harder than PROVING he is faking one. The NFL is going to have a really hard time enforcing the law on anyone.
Is the tactic of faking injuries bush league?
But if it is hard to prove and appears to work, why wouldn’t players use the strategy to slow down opposing offenses?
It’s called gamesmanship people and — like it or not — faking injuries to slow down opponents is just a part of the game. Players do what they have to do to help their team win.
After all, “You play to win the game,” remember?
Shawn Muller has lived in the great city of Chicago for 7 years. He is a 2002 graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Madison and, in October of 2010, Shawn received his certificate in radio broadcasting. In his free time, Shawn enjoys spending time with his wife Melissa and 3 year old daughter Ava, catching any live sporting event, and traveling. Check out his radio show, Grab Some Bench with Muller and Bangser” every Thursday night at 8:30 P.M., at www.blogtalkradio.com/spmuller24. Read more of his blogs here.