As Richard Sherman prepared to sit for his media press conference Wednesday after practice, his foot got caught on the short flight of stairs leading up to the podium, causing him to stumble. To save face, Sherman made an off-the-cuff remark about injury.
“Injury report,” joked Sherman. “Gotta call the league, make sure they know.”
Shortly thereafter, Sherman’s joke turned into a long conversation delving into the injury report and its true purpose—which the Seattle Seahawks star cornerback believes is to support gamblers, oddsmakers, and Las Vegas.
“From what I understand, the rule is for the gamblers, for Vegas, to make sure that the odds and everything are what they’re supposed to be, which is apparently what the league is concerned about when talking about injuries and things like that,” said Sherman. “So maybe somebody should look into that because I thought we weren’t a gambling league and we were against all those things. But our injury report is specifically to make sure the gamblers get their odds right.”
The NFL has a strict policy against gambling. They like to discourage fans from participating as much as possible and hold the right to discipline players that get caught. So, the NFL insists that their policies on reporting injuries are in no way designed to help gamblers—in fact, they’re intended to prevent anyone from having an unfair advantage or inside knowledge.
“The decades-old policy is in place to ensure that all clubs provide accurate and timely information to other clubs, the public, and media about every player’s availability,” an NFL spokesperson said, defending the league’s policies. “It is designed for competitive fairness purposes and curtails the potential for someone to attempt to gain and exploit inside information.”
With the injury report, some teams *cough* the New England Patriots *cough* would resort to even more nefarious methods of figuring out who is in and who is out for their opponent come Sunday. So, to prevent New England (and others, I suppose) from cheating, the NFL requires all injury information to be made public on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday before a Sunday game.
“Without such a policy, you could envision a potential scenario in which a teammate or team personnel could be approached by a third party to sell inside information about a player’s undisclosed injury that could sideline or inhibit his performance. The policy, which is closely monitored by the league, provides a transparent look at player availability.”
The problem is, the league’s official policy doesn’t make it clear what is supposed to be considered an injury and disclosed. The league’s policy regarding injury reports states the following: “All players who have significant or noteworthy injuries must be listed on the Practice Report, even if the player takes all the reps in practice, and even if the team is certain that he will play in the upcoming game.”
So, while Sherman’s little stumble might not be considered “significant” or “noteworthy,” there’s no clear indication of what is.
You may recall the Seahawks almost got themselves in trouble with the NFL at the end of last season after head coach Pete Carroll mentioned during a press conference that Sherman had been battling a knee injury for most of the year—to which the NFL said, What knee injury?
Sherman was on and off of the team’s injury report regularly for a variety of reasons, none of which ever mentioned a knee injury of any sort. So, the NFL launched an investigation but decided not to penalize Carroll or the team at the end of it. Sherman was very vocal throughout the investigation process that the team did nothing wrong and that he was fine, but, as the official policy states, injuries must be disclosed even if a player is a guaranteed go on Sunday.
Of course, the Seahawks aren’t taking any changes anymore. Anything that happens—hell, even Sherman’s little slip—will end up on that report. It’s going to get to a point where there’s so much information on the report that it becomes useless once again.
Sherman has spent the first two weeks of this season on the Seahawks’ injury report with a tweaked hamstring. The injury held Sherman out of practice Wednesday and Thursday of last week, but the cornerback downplayed the injury as a formality on the sheet.
“Now we’ve just got to mention everything, make sure the league is—they want to be aware of things. I think I’ve got a hangnail, so we’re going to put that in the injury report next week. Yeah. We don’t want to miss nothing.”
Nothing would make me happier than to receive a Bleacher Report notification tomorrow, saying, “Seahawks’ CB Richard Sherman (hangnail) questionable vs. Titans.”