I never played professional (or college...or high school...) football, but as a fan of the game and as someone who covers it as my job, it would seem to me that faking an injury is about the most cowardly thing you can do.
I bring this up because in the Monday night game a couple days ago between the New York Giants and the St. Louis Rams, in an effort to slow down the Rams' "hurry up" offense, it would appear to the layman's eye that a couple of Giants players came down with very convenient cramps as the Rams were driving down the field. (Either that or they were shot with small invisible bullets from upper-deck snipers.)
You be the judge....
So from this YouTube clip, can we tell if the Giants were faking injuries? Well, let's keep score at home:
1. Establishing the tempo of that point in the game, Mike Tirico screams "pedal to the metal" and Jon Gruden is amazed at how much difficulty the Giants are having merely lining up in time. In other words, the conditions were conducive to faking injury.
2. Two players -- #34 Deon Grant and #57 Jacquian Williams -- go down at the same time. Williams almost immediately gets up after seeing that Grant is curled up in the fetal position.
3. Mike Tirico sardonically points out that Grant is a "veteran player," i.e., he's savvy enough to fake an injury. Tirico also says that "we'll see if Grant is okay, and see if he returns shortly." Right.
Perhaps realizing that the Giants' tactics were one step removed from professional wrestling or, dare I say, soccer, the league issued this pre-emptive statement regarding such stall tactics:
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.
For his part in all of this, Grant denied that he was faking:
"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?"
Grant's explanation sounds even more ridiculous than the video of his "injury" looks. And we all know that all behavior is driven by humans seeking pleasure or avoiding pain. Winning is a pleasurable experience, so if the pleasure of winning outweighs the threat of the pain of suspension, the pratfalls will continue to delay hurry-up offenses all over football.
So if cheating is going to continue to go on, I would at least like the players to be good at it, so through the magic of embedded video, here are five pieces of advice in order to fake injury in the most convincing fashion possible:
LESSON 4. Don't send the injured player back in the game the next play, and for the love of God, if you do, have him limp at least a tiny bit.
LESSON 2. If the feigned injury is a leg injury, don't point at it like the bone is poking through your skin unless the bone is actually poking through your skin.
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LESSON 1. If you're going to fake getting belted in the face, at least grab your opponent's hand and "string puppet" him into punching you in the face. Slightly more manly than faking a punch.
Listen to Sean Pendergast on 1560 The Game from noon to 3 p.m. weekdays and follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/SeanCablinasian.