The Philadelphia crowd started giving Chiefs cornerback Sean Smith the business as he took a seat on the Lincoln Financial Field grass. Michael Vick‘s 13-yard pass to Riley Cooper midway through the third quarter had brought the Eagles inside the red zone. Smith, in coverage on the play, began grabbing for the back of his leg once Cooper stepped out of bounds before sitting down to wait for his trainers.
“I knew it was coming ,” said Smith, via the Kansas City Star. “Everybody thought I was faking, but I had to get an IV ― I’ve got the proof right here,” he said, pointing to a bandage on the inside of his arm.
“It shows how fast-paced that offense is. It’s crazy, you can’t really practice it. So when you see it for the first time, you don’t really know what to expect.”
This has become a recurring theme through the Eagles’ first three games. A player goes down with cramps, the up-tempo drive runs into a red light, and it’s impossible to know for sure whether everything is on the up-and-up.
Asked if the league is looking into the conduct of Kansas City at all following Thursday’s game, NFL spokesman Greg Aiello replied: “I’m not aware of that.”
Vice President of Officiating Dean Blandino addressed the issue of faking injuries for strategic purposes in a memo to the teams on September 5:
“The Competition Committee deprecates feigning injuries, with subsequent withdrawal, to obtain a timeout without penalty. Coaches are urged to cooperate in discouraging this practice.
“Be advised that violators of this policy will be subject to appropriate disciplinary action for conduct detrimental to the game which could include fines of coaches, players, and clubs, suspensions or forfeiture of draft choices. We have been fortunate that teams and players have consistently complied with the spirit of the rule and teams are strongly urged to continue to cooperate with this policy.”
Problem is, how can you tell if a player is really hurting or not? And in an era where player safety is a dominant issue, can you really accuse a player of faking an injury?
Meanwhile, with the suspicion of fake injuries on the rise, the innocent can be accused. Cornerback Brandon Flowers, as an example, was questionable heading into the game with a knee injury, yet also caught some grief when he went down in the second half.
Fake or real, the effect is the same.
“Once you stop the momentum we’re having, and when we are coming back and moving the ball, I think the [Chiefs' defense] was getting tired,” LeSean McCoy said. “[Injuries] give them time to get their breath back. Who is to say if they were faking it or not? People get hurt during the game.”
When asked if this was an issue at Oregon, Chip Kelly said he didn’t have any statistics on whether players got hurt more against his teams than others.
What did he make of the cramping on Thursday night?
“Never, ever going to get into that,” said Kelly. “We need to execute better and not turn the football over. That’s the least of my worries right now.”
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