Last week, on a Wednesday, which is typically the toughest day on which to discuss NFL football with people who have actual functioning lives, the league pole vaulted to the top of the news feed by distributing a memo to all 32 teams warning players not to fake injuries. Or else... well, they'll have to go into the league office and explain why they faked, or didn't fake, an injury.
"Those found to be violators will be subject to appropriate disciplinary action for conduct detrimental to the game," said the memo. The offender's team could also be hit with fines, suspensions and forfeited draft picks (really?), or so the rumor mills say.
There are a lot of injuries in the NFL, and at all levels of the game, for that matter, but there are still some players and coaches who've been watching too much soccer and have found the upside of laying on the turf for five minutes before walking off to the applause of adoring fans - only to come back two plays later. You stop the clock. You inspire a level of impatience in no huddle offenses found only in airport security and urinal lines. You give your guys a breather. Makes sense, however lame it may be.
But the NFL wants no more of this. And they mean business, which is why they sent out that very business-like memo. By the way, if you're an NFL player, how do you get memos? Do have an email inbox? Do you get a lot of junk mail? Can I forward you the slightly racist jokes my father-in-law forwards me?
Anyway, how hard would it be to escape a claim of faking an injury in one of those hearings? You have to prove you were injured enough to stop play? NFL players, listen up, here are a few free get-out-of-jail cards for you. Free of charge. I've even taken the time to script out the exact language.
- "I had diarrhea. That's a kind of injury. Don't believe me? Ask the guy who does our team's laundry on Monday mornings. His name is Ron and he'll be able to provide visual and olfactory evidence.
- "It was my feelings that were hurt. I can't discuss it with you. I'm too emotionally vulnerable at the moment."
- "I was merely lying on the grass in the fourth quarter for three minutes when we were down by two and the other team was almost in field goal range with the clock ticking down." (That's the honest approach. Maybe they'll let you off with a "boys will be boys.")
- "I can't come to the hearing because my back hurts still hurts from that one hit I took on that play in that one game."
- "See, I got this puss-filled pimple, or I suppose you could call it a cyst if you want, on my ass and..." (They won't want to hear anything else after this, so just improvise from there.)
- "I was born with pretendinitis**. It's a condition that causes you to fake injuries. I can't help it."
**A condition first discovered by Scranton, Pennsylvania, receptionist Pam Beesly.