Giants acting desperate because they are

September, 22, 2011
9/22/11
10:38
AM ET

No, I don't believe Deon Grant when he says he was really hurt, and I'm not sure why he went to such great lengths to deny something everyone knows to be true. He obviously faked an injury Monday night to slow down the Rams' no-huddle offense as it was nearing the goal line and give his New York Giants a chance to make the substitutions they hadn't been able to make. Methinks he doth protest too much, and in the face of a mountain of evidence.

Rams quarterback Sam Bradford said he heard Giants players yelling, "Someone go down! Someone go down!" Rams linebacker Bryan Kehl, who played for the Giants last year, said Giants defensive coordinator Perry Fewell coaches that. Giants players were smiling about it when asked after the game. Even the league office knows what happened, which is why they sent a useless memo Wednesday reminding teams that faking injuries to stop the clock is against the rules. They were basically telling the Giants, "We know what you did, and we know you know it's cheating, but we can't do anything about it so we're sending this memo so fans think we're on top of this. Please don't do it again."

Thing is, though, they will. And so will other teams when they find themselves in the position the Giants are in right now. The Giants, quite simply, are desperate. A lackluster offseason followed by an inconceivable rash of injuries has left them with a roster that will be outmanned in most weeks. So if they're going to win, they know they're going to have to use every possible avenue available to them. And while no one in the organization can officially condone or admit to a tactic that amounts to cheating, competitive athletes in this or any other sport are almost always willing to break rules if they're unenforceable. It's not cheating, the old saying goes, if you can't get caught.

The Giants still have a lot of very good players on their roster, but overall right now they're an average-to-below-average team that's losing a key player every other week to a season-ending knee injury. They know what trouble feels like, and they were feeling it early Monday night when Grant and rookie linebacker Jacquian Williams flopped the way soccer stars flop to draw phantom penalties. They were fortunate, as it turns out, to have been playing the Rams, who are a bad team that has very few good players and can't seem to get out of its own way. But they don't get to play the Rams every week. Things are going to get keep getting desperate for the Giants, over and over again, and when they do, you can bet they'll be looking for any edge they can create.

Should they fear NFL repercussions? Of course not. The NFL can't enforce this rule. They can't have an official judge on the spot whether a guy is hurt and throw a flag, and they can't fine a team for faking injuries and risk having the accused faker come back with a torn ACL. (Which, especially if it's the Giants, is far too likely to chance at this point.) There's enough evidence and eyewitness testimony right now about the Monday night game that the league could punish the Giants if they wanted to. Instead they send out a memo in the hopes that the Giants will get embarrassed and stop doing it. But it's not going to work. As long as the Giants are as desperate as they are right now, fear of unlikely punishment isn't going to stop them from doing what they think they need to do to win.

Dan Graziano

ESPN New York Giants reporter

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