Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Faking It?

The Rams have asked the NFL to investigate the possibility that the Giants faked injuries while St. Louis was successfully running the no-huddle offense. (Point #1 that I would like to acknowledge immediately: Giants and their fans should be ashamed that any type of Rams' offense, let alone the no-huddle, proved to be at all effective).

Due to the cable snafu of the century, I don't have ESPN. I'm sure this story has been covered extremely poorly by, let's say Trent Dilfer, but here's the Sports Casual take on things: ARE YOU SERIOUS? As if the world needed another reason to hate New Jersey [Point #2].

At the very root of things, I would think this was an issue of pride. [Point #3 and Legitimate Idea #1]. NFL players are some of the strongest, toughest, most athletic human beings ever to walk the earth. Any one of them, even a kicker, could break me in half if he wanted to. What kind of self-respecting player would "play hurt" because coach said so? Would anyone really be willing to jeopardize their toughness,  a trait that is valued so highly in the NFL?

More importantly for the league, faking injuries calls the integrity of the game into question [Point #4, Legitimate Idea #2]. Not to make any hasty generalizations here, but it only takes a few rap sheets before we realize that individual integrity does not exist across 100% of the player pool. Even at the coaching level we've seen events like Spygate and NCAA investigations, which assure us that coaches, too, are not beyond cheating.

But the league desperately needs to preserve the authenticity of its product in order to maintain universal popularity. I will contend that fake injuries are the #3 reason why soccer struggles in America, behind low scores and America's inability to win on an international stage [Tangential Information]. When a lot of us think of soccer, we think of the generic Italian clutching his leg like it just fell off. (This imagery doesn't totally make sense, but I'm trying to drive a point home here.) If fans start associating fake injuries with NFL football, the league will have a big problem.

So what should the NFL do to the Giants? I'll tell you what they will do, at least this time around: nothing. The league will be content to sweep this under the rug as soon as possible, handing the Giants at most a slap on the wrist. (Inevitably, whoever gets slapped in the wrist will crumple to the ground and begin holding his leg).

But if the problem persists - and we'll be watching for it when teams with prolific no-huddle offenses take the field - the league will have a real issue to address [Concluding Argument]. And the punishment will have to be steep. Pure economics suggests it should be more than the value of a win. Pure common sense says it should be at least as much as fines for hard hits. After all, guys are getting socked with $50,000 fines every week for trying to make tackles. Cheating though, from a fan perspective at least, has no place in the NFL. When I turn the TV on every Sunday, I want to see elite athletes, brilliantly crafted schemes, and an authentic game.

So quit faking it.

[Powerful closing statement].

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