I don't think anyone here would be all that surprised if they learned that the Patriots have been lying on their injury reports during the tenure of Bill Belichick as Patriots coach.
The NFL rules state clearly that a team is required to list all injuries for all of their players each and every week, no exceptions. If a player is injured, and the team knows he is injures and fails to report that injury on the weekly report, it's a violation of the rules. These rules take on added significance now with the information we are getting about head injuries and their lingering affects on players, like the late-Chris Henry and former-Patriots linebacker Ted Johnson.
At the end of the 2009 season, CBS Sports' Charlie Casserly reported that Tom Brady was playing football with broken ribs. The oddity of this report was that the Patriots had failed to report this little bit of information on their injury docket prior to their Week 16 match-up with the Jaguars. So, what Casserly was accusing the Pats of was violating NFL rules, something the Patriots have a pretty solid track record of doing.
Naturally, Bill Belichick got upset at Casserly's outrageous accusation, taking some pretty strong shots at the former-GM of the Houston Texans:
"Who's been wrong more than Charley Casserly since he left the Redskins? His percentage is like a meteorologist," Belichick said.
"He has no relationship to this team. I'd say less than zero. Based on what? He's never at a practice, never at a game," Belichick said before getting into a discussion of sports media practices in general.
"At least he put his name on it which is more than a lot of guys. But, like he usually is, he was 100 percent wrong.
Well, it turns out Bill Belichick was probably lying when he said those nasty things about Casserly. According to Tom Brady's personal throwing coach, Tom Martinez, Tommy Terrific did indeed play with three borken ribs and a broken finger in the final few weeks of the 2009 season.
So much for Casserly being "100% wrong," huh Bill.
Put aside for a moment the fact that Tom Brady is one tough SOB (three broken ribs?), this new information from Martinez strongly suggests the Patriots willingly and knowingly withheld Brady's injury status from the report. Unless their medical staff is grossly incompetent, it's kind of hard to hide broken ribs and a broken finger.Withholding information like that from an injury report is a violation of the rules.
Last season, the NFL fined the Jets $75,000 and their former-head coach Eric Mangini $25,000 for failing to list Brett Favre's arm injury during the final weeks of the 2008 season. Favre played one season for the Jets before retiring and then un-retiring (again) to join the Vikings. It's likely Belichick and the Patriots will receive a similar penalty.
Commissioner Roger Goodell personally feels the injury listings rule is "an important rule for the integrity of the game." I know there are rumblings that the Colts are equally dishonest with their injury reports. If that is so, such activity is no different than what the Patriots are doing, and using Roger Goodell's own words, what the Patriots are doing is damaging the integrity of the game.
If the Colts are doing the same thing, they deserve the same penalty. NFL Network's Marshall Faulk was recently quoted as saying:
"Here's my thing -- it's well-documented that if you're not cheating, you're not trying in sports. Some of the best things that are done in sports are illegal. You work around the rules and try to get things done."
Ha! I guess the NFL should make a poster of that and hang it from a rafter during one of the Super Bowl halftime shows. Unfortunately for Marshall, that isn't what the NFL is selling to the public. If you are cheating, you're a scumbag because you are trampling on the integrity of a game that has a rich and lengthy history.
Also, when you tell taxpayers that they are publicly subsidizing a stadium for a league that promotes cheating, it is not quite the right message you want to send. People tend to get a little pissed when they realize their money is supporting something they do not personally believe in, and any league that promotes or enables cheating is not worth people's hard-earned money. Faulk is a schmuck for saying what he said, and Bill Belichick will likely be a bit lighter in the wallet when august rolls around.