Teams warned about faking injuries
The NFL sent a memo Wednesday to all 32 teams warning of fines, suspensions and loss of draft picks if the league determines players faked injuries during a game. Yet several players admit it's an accepted practice, and some coaches hinted they are not above condoning phony injuries if it provides a competitive edge.
"I've been places where it has been (taught)," said Browns linebacker Scott Fujita, a member of the players' union executive committee. "They have a name for it and I've been places where it's been pre-called. I've been places where it's one player who has been designated. Maybe I'm getting everyone in trouble, but I'm just being honest."
While calling it "real bush league" -- no pun intended -- Dolphins running back Reggie Bush said a coach "just designates a guy who fakes an injury. It's usually not a captain of the team. It's a guy who's expendable."
In the memo obtained by ESPN and The Associated Press, the NFL reminded teams of league policy that calls on coaches to discourage the practice, and that there was no specific rule on the topic.
However, two days after there was speculation the Giants' Deon Grant faked an injury against the Rams during the Monday night game, the NFL is warning of disciplinary action.
"It's always been in the game," Ravens All-Pro safety Ed Reed said. "It's all tactical stuff you need to use. Whatever it takes. ... If you're tired, you're tired. You get a break however you can."
Added 49ers running back Frank Gore: "Hey, I feel if it helps, do it. I'm bound to do it. Whatever it takes to win ..."
Rams coach Steve Spagnuolo said Tuesday the team notified the league office that it suspected the Giants were feigning injuries in St. Louis' 28-16 loss. Rams quarterback Sam Bradford said it was obvious the Giants were just buying time, with St. Louis running a no-huddle offense.
"They couldn't get subbed, they couldn't line up," Bradford said. "Someone said, 'Someone go down, someone go down,' so someone just went down and grabbed a cramp."
How can another person that's not in your body tell you when you're faking an injury?” -- Deon Grant
The memo from the league said:
"Going forward, be advised that should the league office determine that there is reasonable cause, all those suspected of being involved in faking injuries will be summoned promptly to this office ... to discuss the matter. Those found to be violators will be subject to appropriate disciplinary action for conduct detrimental to the game."
On Tuesday, Giants coach Tom Coughlin said he was not aware Grant might have faked an injury late in the first quarter. Coughlin said he thought Grant went down with cramps.
Grant on Wednesday said he wasn't pretending to be injured.
"I went out one play," Grant said. "I got banged up, and went right back in and finished the game -- (just like I have) every game for my career. My whole thing is when (do) you know (if) somebody (is) faking an injury? ... I'm not no duck or no dummy. I'm not about to be going out there banging myself up like they do in the movies.
"You look at my knees now, do you see this knee (my right one), this knee is smaller than that one (my left one)? You see the bang-up, right?"
Grant said he banged his knee on the previous play while making a tackle. He began flexing his knee and knew he'd hurt it, but wanted to stay in the game. Grant said someone -- perhaps defensive end Justin Tuck -- was behind him and said, 'D, don't try to run off the field, just go down.' And I was like, 'No.' "
"But as I was walking they lined up knowing I couldn't get back into my position because of the injury, so I went down," Grant said. "It just so happened Jacquian (Williams) -- he was catching a cramp at the same time -- and he went down.
"I went out (and) came back in. I've been doing that my whole career. But you go and check my medical report. I (have) the injuries to speak for it. Two torn MCLs I never had surgery on. Wrist surgery. Shoulder surgery. (A) broken hip with a metal plate with screws in it, so I don't fake nothing. How can another person that's not in your body tell you when you're faking an injury?"
Had Grant attempted to get off the field, it could have left the Giants a defender short when the ball was snapped. Of course, they also could have called a timeout, a course of action teams might need to use in the future.
Redskins coach Mike Shanahan was coy about the tactic when asked if he ever instructed a defense to do it.
"I can't say I have," Shanahan said before pausing. "But I won't say I haven't, either."
Then he smiled.
"It happens all the time, and warnings will come out," he added, "and it's happened again."
The league's competition committee often has discussed this issue but has been reluctant to propose a rule that could force game officials to make judgments on injuries.
"We have been fortunate that teams and players have consistently complied with the spirit of the rule over the years and this has not been an issue for the NFL," the memo said. "We are determined to take all necessary steps to ensure that it does not become an issue."
For the most part, such delay tactics have been considered gamesmanship.
"As an offensive player, you always think guys are faking in that situation," Eagles guard Kyle DeVan said. "But you don't know for sure. You don't know when guys are going to cramp up, so you have to be careful. The most important thing is players' health. You would hope guys don't do it, but it's going to happen."
Information from ESPNNewYork.com's Mike Mazzeo and The Associated Press was used in this report.