Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

19 Nov 2005

Faking Injuries on the No-Huddle

Reader Stan Brown points out this interview with Bill Polian of the Colts. You have to scroll all the way down to get to the question about teams faking injuries on the field in order to slow down the no-huddle offense, but Polian has some interesting comments.

Posted by: Aaron Schatz on 19 Nov 2005

87 comments, Last at 23 Nov 2005, 1:13pm by DD Ohio


by Becephalus (not verified) :: Sat, 11/19/2005 - 4:43pm

This type of stuff bothers me almost as much as steroids. It is just as unsportsmanlike and has a bigger day to day impact on the game IMO. I cannot even watch the NBA for all the traveling and diving (Karl Malone dove at least 5 times a game in his last few seasons). Is it so hard to enforce the rules?

I always think it is odd when people are all up in arms about steroids, but say nothing when someone claims to make a catch they clearly didn't or tries to argue they have the ball on a fumble when they clearly don't. You see trasparent lying on the field several times in every NFL or NCAA game and its pathetic.

I know when I played hockey and there was a question if a goal was scored on us and I saw it was, I would tell the ref so he would make the right call. And he would look at me like I was insane, FOR TELLING THE TRUTH!? (this happened quite a few times over the years)

I am all for being competitive, but competition is meaningless without adherence to the rules, and victories mean absolutely nothing when you cheat.

I have seen self rightous baseball commentators (Joe Buck) praise outfielders for making it look like they made a catch they didn't, and laugh about the good acting job.

Anyway these aceeptance of lying and faking injuries in an era when everyone is all up in arms about steroids is the WORST kind of hypocracy. I think this article just made IND my new favorite team. Dungy has always been my favorite coach since he was in MIN.

by BlueStarDude (not verified) :: Sat, 11/19/2005 - 5:07pm

re: "We made a rule for this game and the Super Bowl that if the offense substitutes in any way the defense will be allowed to substitute and the ball won’t be put in play until such time that the defense is ready to go.’ That rule was codified the following spring by the Competition Committee and that’s the way it has been ever since."

I don't get it. If the rule is there to allow defensive substitutions, then why are teams resorting to the fake injury?

And why don't the experts/announcers bring up this rule when they're doing Colts games and going on and on about how the no huddle offense means that the defense doesn't have a chance to substitute its players?

by rk (not verified) :: Sat, 11/19/2005 - 5:12pm

Re: 2
The defense can sub when the O does according to the rule. Indy's O doesn't sub, so defensive players resort to this crap because it doesn't fall under that rule.
You also can't have more than 11 players in the huddle anymore like they did in Polian's story.

by Michael David Smith :: Sat, 11/19/2005 - 5:42pm

This was a much better interview than I expected to find on an official team site. Usually I think official sites are full of puff pieces, but this interview was better than most of the ones I read from local beat writers. Nice find, Stan.

One thing to remember about the Colts is that they chose Edgerrin James over Ricky Williams in large part because they thought Manning was going to be a great no-huddle QB and they wanted a back who wouldn't have to substitute. Edge is more of an every-down player than Ricky.

I do disagree with Polian when he says this about Jason David:
"It’s the old story, ‘You don’t change horses in midstream,’ and especially not when you’re leading the race. My expectation is we’ll leave everything where it is."

I think that's a bad idea. Teams shouldn't assume that just because they're winning they don't need to change anything. In a way, the Colts might be better off if they lose a game because it will lead to a candid assessment of the changes they need to make.

Tagliabue needs to do something about faking injuries. I think there should be a policy where if a team has multiple "injuries" that come at times where a free timeout would be advantageous, and the "injured" player returns to the game quickly, the league reviews the tape of the play before the "injury" and sends a doctor to check the "injury" out after the case, and a team found to have faked injuries to gain a competitive advantage should lose a draft pick.

by Israel (not verified) :: Sat, 11/19/2005 - 6:09pm

#1 "...but say nothing when someone claims to make a catch they clearly didn’t or tries to argue they have the ball on a fumble when they clearly don’t."

I think this comes under the category "the refs robbed me last week so I am just getting some back." After losing some dimes in my dorm phone years ago, I had no problem taking the two or three free calls it gave me one week.

by Kuato (not verified) :: Sat, 11/19/2005 - 6:38pm

The Colts/Houston game was not shown too much outside of Indiana and Texas, so a lot of people probably didn't see this game. I was there, and it was pure ridiculousness what the Texans were doing. By the third quarter, the crowd was BOOING all the injuries that were happening because it was so obvious that players weren't hurt. Guys would get up after the play and be milling around as the Colts got onto the line and all of the sudden some DB would just fall over for no apparent reason a full minute after the last play was over. The Colts would be almost lined up and the Texans weren’t even bothering to get set into a defensive alignment because they knew someone was about to take a dive. Teams have been doing this against the Colts since Teddy Brusci (I think it was him but it might have been Seymore) did it in the waning moments of a Pats game in 2003 when the Pats couldn’t get their players on and off the field fast enough (he sat out one play and then came back in the game to make the critical 4th down stop at the goal line).

I don’t know what you can do about it during game time (as you can’t expect the refs to make a decision about someone being injured or not), but the post game fines if something is fishy should be severe.

by PatsFan (not verified) :: Sat, 11/19/2005 - 6:56pm

Re: #6

It was McGinest. And it was for getting a breather, not because the defense didn't have their players on the field.

I don't know what you can do about it even after a game. What if the player claims the injury is a leg cramp? They can happen suddenly and go away suddenly, so I don't know how the league would be able to say any given cramp was phony, no matter how phony it looked.

by charles (not verified) :: Sat, 11/19/2005 - 7:51pm

Can the colts hurry up and win the superbowl already so we can stop worrying about teams bending the rules.

by Paul (not verified) :: Sat, 11/19/2005 - 7:53pm

Re #7: You're right, 20/20 hindsight after the game would be tough. Even if you see a guy laughing with another on the play off, hell he could have just told a dirty joke. Who knows for sure in league offices? But during the game, if the refs believe someone's pulling a fast one, they should throw the yellow hanky. Unsportsmanlike conduct or delay of game, depending on what they are trying to pull. Most refs will be reluctant (and should be), particularly if they go down immediately after or even during the play. But let's face it: Pass interference is often called for less, with less certainty and often for more yards.

by Michael David Smith :: Sat, 11/19/2005 - 8:18pm

Perhaps the solution is making a player sit out more than one play if he causes an injury timeout. Maybe five plays, or five minutes of game time? I don't like the rest of the series because a lot of times the guys who fake the injuries are doing it right before third-and-long because they're not in the nickel package. So the one play they have to sit out is the rest of the series.

by peachy (not verified) :: Sat, 11/19/2005 - 8:27pm

So is Houston the team Polian was referring to?

by Becephalus (not verified) :: Sat, 11/19/2005 - 9:36pm

Yeah. I think 15mins wouldn't be too severe. It seems extreme at first, but it would not be that unreasonable. A player gets shaken up they can leave as a normal substitution, if they are hurt bad enough that there is a timeout they probably shouldn't be right back on the field anyway. It would also probably stop this type of thing dead in its tracks.

by doktarr (not verified) :: Sat, 11/19/2005 - 10:57pm

RE: 10 & 12

What if a team sends in their backup for one down, and has him fake injury if the other team goes hurry-up? This requires that the team is willing to put a backup on the field for a play and lose his services for a while, but at a position with a lot of depth this may be manageable.

Another option here would be to assess some sort of automatic penalty in this case. The injury substitution could be a 5 yard penalty, which does not change down-and-distance (just move the chains 5 yards). I think that would be enough of a penalty to discourage cheating, but not so much as to be too unfair to legitimate injuries.

by Smeghead (not verified) :: Sat, 11/19/2005 - 11:21pm

Anyone know what this one was about?

Q: Did you ever get an answer on the so-called simulated quarterback question?

A: As a rule of thumb, Mike Pereira – the director of officiating – is saying that (Colts quarterback) Peyton (Manning) may not be within a yard of the center at any time if we’re going to run that play. He can come up to the line. He can call plays. He can gesticulate. He can do any of those things, but he can’t be within a yard of the center. I’ll bet (referee) Bill Carollo made that up on the spot, but nevertheless, that’s fine. We got an answer. We know what the answer is.

by Purds (not verified) :: Sat, 11/19/2005 - 11:41pm

Re: #7:

Come on, PatsFan, you, and I, and everyone who watched that game knows McGinnest faked a knee injury to slow down the final Colts drive, and that the free timeout worked. Willie jumped up well enough to speed rush from the outside and stop James on 4th down.

If this were a situation that harmed the Pats, I think you would view it very differently -- but then, the tuck rule went NE's way, didn't it? (Am I bitter? yes :) The Pats have been great manipulators of the rules--always one step ahead of the refs (see holding receivers in 2003 -- somethiing I wish the Colts would have done as well, as the refs weren't calling anything that game and the Colts played too soft).

From NFL.com:

"McGinest, who saved the game just two plays after limping off with a knee injury."

Let's implement the rule that Berry Melrose always argues for hockey dives: if the trainers comes out, the player come out for a period (in the NFL, a quarter).

by Shalimar (not verified) :: Sat, 11/19/2005 - 11:43pm

I cannot even watch the NBA for all the traveling and diving

Then don't even try watching a soccer game. It seems impossible to play one without at least 10 different players falling to the ground clutching some random body part in faked agony.

by Purds (not verified) :: Sat, 11/19/2005 - 11:43pm

Sorry for the horrendous grammar:

if the trainers come out, the player comes out for a period (in the NFL, a quarter)

by Justus (not verified) :: Sat, 11/19/2005 - 11:43pm

#14 - They're talking about the Colts' direct snap to RB play that they've run a few times this season (also seen during the playoff game vs. NE). Carollo flagged them for it during a recent game, the Colts had no idea why, they were told that Manning had gotten "too close to being under center". The Colts ask "Uh...what is 'too close'?" and are told it is one yard.

by IzzionSona (not verified) :: Sat, 11/19/2005 - 11:44pm

RE: #14

A couple times, the Colts have tried to run a direct snap to James while Manning is "chicken dancing" around. The two times I've seen it, Manning got flagged for a false start (one time he was just walking down the line, was about at the TE when the ball was snapped)

Obviously, the Colts think the play could have some trick play value, and wanted a clarification on the rules surrounding running it, if they decide to use it again.

by Kibbles (not verified) :: Sat, 11/19/2005 - 11:55pm

How about getting a league official with some medical experience on every sideline, standing by while the teams check out every injury? Not only does it help in the "faking an injury" department, it would also give someone else on the sidelines to ensure that teams are turning in injury reports to the press like they're mandated to do, and it would prevent Bill Bellichick from going off the deep end because he thinks he can gain some competitive advantage by refusing a higher standard of care for his players at the cost of the other team maybe, possibly, somehow gaining some injury information (as if it wasn't already brutally apparent from where he got hit and what he grabbed in the replay).

Seriously, one of these days a Patriot is going to break a rib and have it puncture a lung and Bellichick will order him to stand on the sideline and act like he's not in pain so the other team doesn't gain an undue advantage from realizing that the player probably isn't returning during the game. And maybe they could get Bellichick to stop listing Brady as "probable" on every report, and Fisher listing everyone as either "questionable" or "out".

I don't like the idea of having a player sit out for an entire 15 minutes if he leaves while shaken up. I think it would solve a lot on defense, but what about offensive players? Plenty of times, a runningback or a WR will get his bell rung and will have to come off the field for a couple of plays. If an RB had to come out for 15 minutes every time he got hit too hard, it would either encourage players to play through injuries to an even greater extreme than they do now, or it would force teams to keep 4 or 5 RBs on the active roster.

by Purds (not verified) :: Sun, 11/20/2005 - 12:07am


Good points. Perhaps a real-time 10 or 15 minutes? Not game clock 15?

by Purds (not verified) :: Sun, 11/20/2005 - 12:09am

Of course, my suggestion would be absurd, as I know realize seconds after posting it. (There's Bellicheck calling the officials over -- is he going to challenge the play? No? Then he's going to be penalized. Wait, now he IS going to challenge the play...)

I think Bellichick's toying with rules, and the Pats lack of a dominant SB win, is one of the reasons I can't lump NE's dynasty in with the Steelers and Cowboys. Was I just naive? I don't remember those teams bending the rules, just bending opponents.

by MC razón (not verified) :: Sun, 11/20/2005 - 12:21am

person a: wow, these few isolated incidents are all obvious horrible miscarriages of justice! I am outraged!

person b: Quick! Let's enact draconian countermeasures without considering the side effects!

person c: This is why I hate pro sports even though I am reading and posting about them!

by EchoLogic (not verified) :: Sun, 11/20/2005 - 12:24am

"I think Bellichick’s toying with rules, and the Pats lack of a dominant SB win, is one of the reasons I can’t lump NE’s dynasty in with the Steelers and Cowboys."

Tom Brady is worlds better than Aikman. And that's coming from a diehard 'boys fan of 30+ years

by Becephalus (not verified) :: Sun, 11/20/2005 - 12:38am

#15 I said 15min instead of a quater because these tpyes of things tend to happen near the end of quarters...a 5 yrd penalty may be the best because this is most important at the very end of the game...hmm....

by Becephalus (not verified) :: Sun, 11/20/2005 - 12:43am

And on the fake injury front anyone really think McNabb actually hurt anything other than his pride after that pick last week?

by PatsFan (not verified) :: Sun, 11/20/2005 - 12:48am

(1) I didn't excuse what McGinest did. Got a guilty conscience over Manning trying to put things over on refs like running illegal plays (AFC Divisional last year) and then whining about it when the refs call him on it? :-)

(2) When I read Purds, it brings back memories of Bruschi going off after last year's AFC Divisional game on Colts' whining and reminds me how on target he was (though perhaps he should have included fans in his rant :)). And I smile.

(3) Read some books about football in the 1970s before treating us to us another laugher like how the Steelers, Cowboys, etc. played "without bending the rules."

(4) the Pats lack of a dominant SB win, is one of the reasons I can’t lump NE’s dynasty...
Casting aside information-packed stats like DVOA in favor of mere points just to denigrate NE? Tsk-tsk-tsk. :) :)

by Purds (not verified) :: Sun, 11/20/2005 - 2:33am

No one here (read: me) whined about the loss to the Pats in last year's AFC game. So, my team lost. Big deal.

Nor am I upset that the Pats DB's bent the rules in the 2004 AFC game; I am more upset that the team I follow DIDN'T adjust to the lack of flags.

The only one I will gladly whine about is the poor sportsmanship shown by McGinnest in the regular season game.

I don't care for Bellichick's style (I think he's already put Brady on the injury report through 2006) nor the way his fans will want a coach to win at all costs. I enjoy sports, but I don't fixate on winning -- would have jumped the NE bandwagon if I did, as I live right here.

But, go ahead, denigrate all you want. At least you're using sophisticated language.

by Purds (not verified) :: Sun, 11/20/2005 - 2:36am

Oh, and I didn't realize that DVOA showed NE to be a dynasty. I must be misreading these year-end stats:

2004: NE 35.6%
2004: PIT 35.2%

2003: KC 29.6%
2003: NE 22.4%

I guess I better go back to the special PatsFan math class.

by Steve Sandvik (not verified) :: Sun, 11/20/2005 - 4:39am

List the teams that won 3 super bowls in 4 years. It's a pretty short list. That's about as much of a dynasty as you can get in the free agent era.

As a Seahawks fan, I remember that game--the two nose tackles Seattle carried, Ken Clarke and Joe Nash, both um...developed...knee injuries (wink, wink, nod, nod). On the other hand, the competition committee did codify a rule that prevented what Wyche was doing after that, so I don't feel any particular lingering fan guilt over it. It very likely substantially raises the risk of a *real* defensive injury to allow the offense to substitute freely while the defense is denied the opportunity to do so.

by bobman (not verified) :: Sun, 11/20/2005 - 6:25am

Nice math, Purds. Not sure I agree with you, but I love it when somebody whips out evidence that's been hanging out there in the open for a while. Perhaps in this instance, consistency trumps "margin of victory."

Back to the topic at hand, does anybody else remember that fateful playoff game back in about 1986, with the Seahawks clearly feigning injury to slow the Bengals' no-huddle down? I remember it clearly. I'm a lifelong Colts fan, so had nothing emotional riding on that game, but I was incensed, outraged that it was happening. The no-huddle was cool, it was effective, and these clever but wussified pansies couldn't handle it, so they not only tried fairly sleazy methods to stop them, they slowed down and ruined the game for the fans who pay (and who watch TV and buy stuff, thereby fueling their huge salaries). Clearly I assumed the next week, the NFL would slam the door on this charade! Um... oops.

This same thing happened throughout my wrestling career, with guys outgunned or in poor condition faking cramps so they goud get a breather or talk strategy with coach, and I hated it then. It's nothing new, but so hard to measure, yet I am stil frustrated the NFL has yet to deivise a strategy against it. And of course now that it affects my team (Mr. McGinest, I'm looking at you), I put it right up there with the evils of racism, Nazism, and Pauly Shore.

Man, time to get down from the soapbox.

by CaffeineMan (not verified) :: Sun, 11/20/2005 - 1:00pm

#23: Ha ha! Good summary. :D Introducing extra complexity to fix this tempest in a teapot is the wrong way to go. And I don't trust the level of research behind the comment about "old time dynasties didn't bend the rules."

by karl (not verified) :: Sun, 11/20/2005 - 1:44pm

Two questions: is the rule he's talking about the no more than 11 players in the huddle rule? (i guess that doesn't make sense, since it's the no-huddle offense).

is the team he's talking about jacksonville? and is he only saying that bc their the only afc south team competing with the colts and slowing down their offense? bill polian is a soft b--ch...who builds sick teams.

by Jake (not verified) :: Sun, 11/20/2005 - 1:46pm

The Colts don't deserve to win a SuperBowl until they stop whining. Complaining that the other team is cheating and the refs are out to get you is for losers.

Whether is a supposed epidemic of fake injuries(McGinest denies faking an injury, btw and calls it a big deal when someone does so), the Peyton Manning rule, their whining over field conditions in January in New England, their inability to understand why their direct snap trick play is illegal or whatever else they come up with, nothing is ever their fault. That is a recipe for losing. We'll have to see if they overcome that in the playoffs this time, or if they choke it away again.

by doktarr (not verified) :: Sun, 11/20/2005 - 2:34pm

RE: 19

I would assume that the reason they like the direct-snap play is because it makes the defense stay ready while Manning is wandering around. Presumably, this helps Manning get a good read, and possibly tires the D out a little bit.

by Spoilt Victorian Child (not verified) :: Sun, 11/20/2005 - 2:55pm

And on the fake injury front anyone really think McNabb actually hurt anything other than his pride after that pick last week?
Well he's out this week and doctors are telling him not to wait until the end of the season to have surgery, so...

by No Touch (not verified) :: Sun, 11/20/2005 - 4:49pm

RE: #34

McGinest may claim he didn't fake an injury, but I'll never believe it. I've played a lot of hockey and football, both of which have a very "macho" attitude. The only way people ever had the trainers come out on the ice or the field was if they couldn't walk off. If someone is back in the next play they shouldn't be down on the field.

As for Colts whining, I'd rather cheer for a bunch of whiners than a bunch of cheaters. And this is coming from a Cowboys fan...

by LnGrrrR (not verified) :: Sun, 11/20/2005 - 5:21pm

Lots of Cowboy fans who love the Colts. Hmm.

Anyways, it is my belief that McGinest DID cheat. Can't say I like it too much, but c'est la vie.

That being said, could anyone give more than 3 examples of the Patriots cheating? :p

by Trogdor (not verified) :: Sun, 11/20/2005 - 7:21pm

"their inability to understand why their direct snap trick play is illegal"

Why is it illegal? Seriously, is it illegal motion? Illegal formation? A false start? What is illegal about it?

"the Peyton Manning rule"

I have no idea what the hell you're referring to. Care to elaborate?

by MC razón (not verified) :: Sun, 11/20/2005 - 8:07pm

"“their inability to understand why their direct snap trick play is illegal�

Why is it illegal? Seriously, is it illegal motion? Illegal formation? A false start? What is illegal about it?"

If Manning (or any other player) goes under center he is the only player that can recieve a direct snap. If he stays back in a shotgun then he is not under center and anyone in the backfield can get the snap. The play in question is one where Manning got too close to the center, thus being considered to be under center, so when someone else recieved the snap it was illegal.

by Andrew (A.B.) (not verified) :: Sun, 11/20/2005 - 11:18pm

Plenty of QBs have tried this play without a flag. The first time I remember seeing it was Kordell Stewart on the Steelers a few years ago.

by Tim Gerheim :: Sun, 11/20/2005 - 11:31pm

If they implemented some kind of rule that players had to stay out of the game 15 minutes after going down on the ground, guys would be even more reticent to go down with a legitimate injury. It would be hard for trainers to force guys to stay down after an injury, since they would be risking losing a player for 15 minutes for what could ultimately prove to be something trivial. I think during the game there's too little concern for injuries, not too much, and this would just make it worse.

by Andrew (not verified) :: Mon, 11/21/2005 - 1:39am

Becephalus #26:

Watching him have to almost be carried away from the podium on the Tuesday after the game by two other men because of the pain he was in, yes, I'd say McNabb hurt something new on the interception/attempted tackle.

What a stupid question.

by Andrew (not verified) :: Mon, 11/21/2005 - 2:53am

Jake #34:

"The Colts don’t deserve to win a SuperBowl until they stop whining. Complaining that the other team is cheating and the refs are out to get you is for losers."

If other teams are blatant cheaters, they should be called out and called on the carpet.

Football should be played with intensity and honor.

If the Patriots, one of the teams Mr. Polian is obviously referencing here, can't abide the rules regarding timeouts and player substitutions, they can always try to have them changed by the Competition Comittee. Simply cheating in plain view on live TV (like Belichick tossing the red flag in the Pats-Colts game this year) is unacceptable.

Along with these sort of comments are ones which need to be directed at players and coaches who play the game with a reckless disregard for the welfare of their opponents - the attitude of "injure them and damn the fouls!" Yes, I am talking about you Roy Williams and you Rodney Harrison, among others.

by Jim A (not verified) :: Mon, 11/21/2005 - 3:03am

I'm really surprised this story hasn't gotten more attention from the media outlets. Polian, a widely-respected GM/President, is directly accusing some teams of faking injuries repeatedly. Is it really as blatant as described in #6? Have any of these teams (or players) responded publicly to the accusations?

Perhaps more important, is there any evidence that faking injuries works against the Colts? Does it make Peyton Manning turn into Brock Huard? As we discovered in PFP 2005, long drives do not really gain momentum, in general. Do people believe that the Colts' offense (no-huddle or otherwise) is an exception?

by Michael David Smith :: Mon, 11/21/2005 - 9:15am

It's not a matter of whether the Colts have momentum, it's a matter of whether they can exploit mismatches. When the Colts have been picking on one particular player, defenses fake injuries so they'll have time to rearrange their personnel and get that player some help. Anyway, even if it doesn't help the defense, it's still cheating and the league should do something about it.

I agree with Tim that injuries aren't taken seriously enough, but I think that's another good argument for requiring injured players to sit out more than one play. If you're hurt so badly that you can't even get yourself off the field between plays, you shouldn't return that quickly.

by Sebastian C. (not verified) :: Mon, 11/21/2005 - 11:01am

Is it just me or are there other people wondering why there is no talk about a weird sense of good sportsmanship on the Colt's side?
Being able to run a "no-huddle" is a nice thing if you are able to do so, but yelling "attack-attack" to catch the defense offside (while they are substituting) doesn't sound like good sportsmanship to me.Also Peyton Manning huddling up with the referees whenever a call is being discussed between them just to change the their point of view doesn't have anything to do with that either.
To sum it up: Don't whine about others cheating while you yourself are bending the rules!

by dryheat (not verified) :: Mon, 11/21/2005 - 11:37am

I might be missing something, but putting on my Captain Obvious hat, it seems to me that if the problem with the questionable injuries it that the defense can make substitutions vs. the no-huddle, the simplest solution would be to prevent any substitution other than the player who may or may not be injured. Much like hockey does now on icing calls (the icing team can't substitute, so there's no reward for doing it). Remember that if Indy stayed no-huddle, McGinest wouldn't have been able to get back on the field to make that tackle.

by MJK (not verified) :: Mon, 11/21/2005 - 12:03pm

One interesting issue, is that when a team is running a no-huddle, the other team can't substitute, and hence gets tired more. Tired players ARE more likely to get injured, especially minor injuries like leg cramps and getting the wind knocked out. So it's not enough to just say, "when we go no-huddle, they start getting injured more, so they're obviously faking it". Of course, sometimes players do fake it (and yes, though I'm a Pats fan, McGinest was, at least, *exaggerating* his injury in my opinion). There's also a grey area--a player who is exhausted because he couldn't substitute and then gets shaken up on a play is more likely to lie there and then let the trainers help him off than one who is fresh and get's shaken out. Is he faking--not really, but he's not as badly injured as one would think.

I don't like the idea of keeping people out for a whole quarter. Like someone else said, running backs and slot recievers get clocked every now and then and really do need to come out just for a play. Plus, it would encourage other teams to TRY to clock a player and give him a "minor" injury, to knock him out of the game for a while (even if it meant taking a personal foul). Do you think some coaches would blink at getting a 15 yard personal foul and having a backup LB ejected if they could clock ole Peyton really good so he had to come out for a play, and hence for a full quarter? I don't like any rule that encourages players to try to injure other players.

My suggestion would be to give teams, in addition to their three normal time outs, three (or some other number, if three proves to be too few or too many) INJURY timeouts. You can only use them if a player is injured, and, while they last as long as they need to to get the player off the field, the player has to stay out an amount of time proportional to the time of the injury timeout. I.e. you can take a 30 second one to help the player off the field, in which case he needs to stay out for one play, or a 5 minute+ one to put him on a stretcher, but he's out for the game. You could in theory fake three injuries to slow a ne-huddle, but then a real injury would require you to burn a real timeout if you had any left. Thoughts?

by Purds (not verified) :: Mon, 11/21/2005 - 12:19pm


I think the major difference between faking injuries and running a no-huddle is that the no-huddle is not dishonest. No-huddle teams (and after Sunday we can include Bengals vs. Colts) simply try to match their best 11 against your best 11, not their best 15 (subs included) against your best 15. Sometimes that works, and sometimes it doesn't. If it were easy, and an obvious advantage to the offense, then everyone would do it. What the Colts and others hope to do is not allow defensive specialization. Bad for the players union representatives of the world, but not for the game itself.

Fake injuries, on the other hand, are just that: fake. Done to gain something (substitutions, a breather) that could be gained legally with a timeout, or with quick thinking to substitute right at the end of a play.

by Purds (not verified) :: Mon, 11/21/2005 - 12:21pm

And Sebastian:

Do you think Manning is the only QB in the league who tries to influence refs? I think the only truth there is that announcers are dumb enough to think Manning and a few others (Brady comes to mind) can actually change minds.

I don't give the QB's (or the Ray Lewis') that much credit.

by rk (not verified) :: Mon, 11/21/2005 - 1:17pm

I think the worst part of the whole McGinest faking an injury controversy is that the CBS announcer (it was probably Phil Simms but I'm not sure) not only pointed out that he thought McGinest was faking, but he also applauded him for doing so.

by Dave (not verified) :: Mon, 11/21/2005 - 1:33pm

It seems to me that faking an injury is unsportsmanlike conduct, and there's already a penalty for that.

Yes, it's putting the officials (probably just the Referee, as the official in charge, and the Umpire, who is behind the defense) in a position where they have to make a judgement about whether an injury is "real" or not -- but as comment #16 pointed out, soccer officials do that all the time. And play doesn't even stop for them to do it.

The league should circulate a memo to all the teams saying that if, in the judgement of the officials, a player is faking an injury in order to slow down the offense, the team will be assess a 15 yard Unsportsmanlike Conduct penalty. After the Colts or Bengals reel off 30 yards in penalties on a drive or two, defensive players will stop diving.

by Dave (not verified) :: Mon, 11/21/2005 - 1:34pm

Typo: "Assess" should be "assessed".

by Jason (not verified) :: Mon, 11/21/2005 - 1:38pm

#33 karl:
The team Polian is talking about is Houston, not Jacksonville. If you had seen the Houston/Indy game last week you would have seen it too (it happens every time we play the Texans)

But nice try coming up with a sinister motive out of nowhere.

by stan (not verified) :: Mon, 11/21/2005 - 1:58pm

The most interesting part was the fact that some teams have been caught running the trainers on to the field before the player fell down "injured". Pretty good evidence that the injury has been called from the bench.

by ChicagoScott (not verified) :: Mon, 11/21/2005 - 2:47pm

Sebastian-- The ball has been marked for play by the refs. The offense can snap the ball at any time. If the defense has more than 11 on the field when it is snapped, that's the defense's problem. How in the world are the Colts being "unsportsmanlike"? Would you like Mr. Manning to wait for the defense to get set & then politely ask the defensive captain if he is ready to start the next play? Get a clue.

As for #48-- McGinest faked his injury (to give the Patriots a breather) near the end when the Colts were driving for a potential game-winning TD. The Pats may have been out of timeouts too. If I remember correctly, the fake injury came with more than 2 minutes to go & McGinest was on the field to save the game in the final minute. So McGinest may have come onto the field at the 2 minute warning. To my knowledge, McGinest never admitted to faking it but in the postgame locker room, he looked like the cat who ate the canary when asked about it.

In my opinion, the best solution would be for a player to miss the rest of the series if the game has to stop for an injury. Obviously, it would work both ways. Yesterday, Colts OT Tarik Glenn left the field due to a minor hand injury (I think) & returned on the next play of an important TD drive. He would have had to stay out if that rule was in place.

by PFC1 (not verified) :: Mon, 11/21/2005 - 2:52pm

The solution is fairly simple. First, we have to decide whether or not the defense should automatically have the right to substitute, whether or not the offense does. If so, then fine. All of this discussion is moot. Change the rule to permit this. This would, of course, completely obliterate the no huddle offense. But that is not what the NFL decided, and it is not what the current rule is. If the offense subs, then the defense gets to sub too. That is the current rule. If the offense does not sub, the defense can still sub by 1) getting off the field and getting the new player on in time for the snap, 2) using a time out, or 3) in the event of a perceived injury, stopping the clock so that the player can be removed. (I believe, but I may be wrong on this, that within the last few minutes (2, in think) of the game, option 3) results in a charged time out. So, the faking generally occurs before the two minute warning.) If we are going to assume that there is no automatic right for the defense to sub if the offense does not, then it only makes sense that the exception to this rule— the injury exception, is permitted only for legitimate injuries. Otherwise, you might as well just change the rule and let the defense sub ad nauseam. Clearly, certain teams are now violating the rules by faking an injury. The question then becomes one of enforcement. I would propose that in the event that a clock has to be stopped due to an injury (as opposed to a timeout called by the team, or simply substituting as time permits during the game) that the player that is subbed for must remain out of the game for the remainder of the quarter), or the player may come back in at the expense of a 10 yard automatic first down penalty. Thus, players that are hurt can still be substituted and returned outside of the flow of the game at the cost of a time out, or giving up field position. This seems to balance the need to enforce the rule, while at the same time permitting a legitimately hurt player the ability to leave, get treatment if necessary, and still return to the game. An offensive player does not get caught up in this because the offense controls when the snap is, so a player can usually get himself off the field before the snap. The offense rarely has an incentive to fake injury anyway, as it’s the defense that gets worn out, so when the clock is stopped due to offensive injury, invariably the injury is legitimate. So, if you wanted to exempt offensive substitutions from this rule, then this would probably not upset game play.

To Sebastian, snapping the ball when the defense is not set is necessarily permitted under the rule as it is currently written that only permits the defense an automatic right to substitute when the offense does so. Again, if you don’t like it, change the rule, but this is expressly permitted. So, it is intellectually dishonest to say that this is bad sportsmanship.

RE #38, #39, and # 40—The question Polian raised regarding the explanation for the call was that Manning never got under center, so the direct snap to James should not have been illegal. The rule does not state, nor were there any prior indications from the league office that the quarter back coming within a yard of the center equates to “going under center.� If that is now the rule, fine. Let’s all be clear on it, but don’t change the rules ex post facto.

by Jim A (not verified) :: Mon, 11/21/2005 - 3:01pm

I don't know if this is complete, maybe someone who watched the game can fill in the details, but the NFL.com Gamebook of the recent HOU/IND game lists four occurrences of a Texans player getting injured during a Colts drive. On the first two, the Colts still scored a TD within a couple plays. On the last two, the Colts ended up punting, although a roughing the punter penalty gave the Colts the ball back, leading to a FG drive. But it's not apparent from this game that the injuries gave the Texans any observed advantage.

I agree that, if true, faking injuries is unsportsmanlike and against the rules, but other than that is it much different from calling time out to ice a FG kicker? And is it really worth getting all upset about, or does that only encourage other teams to employ similar tactics?

by Jim A (not verified) :: Mon, 11/21/2005 - 3:13pm

This whole thing reminds me of the paranoia the Colts had about other teams fudging their injury reports. They gave several years' worth of injury reports to a stats-saavy journalist we all know and love in order to analyze the data, and determined that their suspicions were baseless.

by PFC1 (not verified) :: Mon, 11/21/2005 - 4:12pm

RE #59 Just because the Colts were good enough to beat the Texans despite their flagrant transgressions against the rule does not mean that Houston did not get an advantage. And just because it did not change the outcome in this game, or even the outcome of individual drives within this game, does not mean that it might not in another game. For example, the Colts - Patriots game discussed above is an example where it might have effected the outcome. Of course, it might not have. How would anyone really know for sure? You never really know when a particular play is going to make a diffence in the outcome of the game until its over. But the standard for flagging a rule violation has never been based on whether the violation changes the outcome of the game. Do we go back and pick up all of the flags thrown against Houston just because they ultimately lost? No. Either it's a violation and should be penalized, or it's not a violation.

by chiwal (not verified) :: Mon, 11/21/2005 - 7:09pm

I think McNabb was definitely nursing a bruised ego after the interception. He has clearly been playing in great pain all season long but if you can run around and throw the ball, albeit poorly, you can scrape yourself up off the turf and walk off the field without looking like you just lost a leg. If he did get hurt throwing the ball ('cause there's no way he got hurt during the runback as it looked like him and the d-lineman were doing a dance, i.e. no hard block at all) then roll off the field, quickly! It was a sad encapsulation of the entire Eagles season to see a wounded McNabb, too prideful to take a seat, throw a horrible interception and then limp off the field as if his injury somehow excuses him.

If you insist on playing hurt then don't use the injury as an excuse.

Nevertheless, the Eagles defense is the real reason they suck this year.

by B (not verified) :: Mon, 11/21/2005 - 7:26pm

I must say I like #48's suggestion. In an Injury situtation, only the injured player can be substituted. To make it fair, we could let the other team substitute one player, if they wanted to. Of course, after an injury the offense could chose to huddle up, then subsitution rules work as normal.

by MC razón (not verified) :: Mon, 11/21/2005 - 7:39pm

I'd just like to remind people that when the no huddle was first introduced to the NFL there was a period of debate about whether or not it was a legal tactic, and I think the league even banned the use of the no huddle for at least one playoff game.

by PFC1 (not verified) :: Mon, 11/21/2005 - 9:08pm

RE # 64, Why? Why do you want to remind us of that? What is your point? The NFL decided NOT to outlaw it. The rule currently permits a no huddle offense, and prohibits faking an injury. As I said above, if you want to outlaw it, fine. Just say that's what you advocate. But that is not what the rules are. The rules have no meaning if there is no effective enforcement mechanism.

RE # 63 and #48, that is no solution. the clock is still stopped, the substitution is still made, and the offense loses the advantage it has created for itself by having the personelle to run the no huddle office and by excecuting it to perfection. The opposing team should not be able to defeat good strategy and execution by faking injury.

by ChicagoScott (not verified) :: Mon, 11/21/2005 - 11:07pm

#58 jarred my memory. I may be wrong but McGinest's "injury" may have occurred in the final 2 minutes but the Patriots were out of timeouts. So they couldn't stop the clock to sub or get a breather AND they were charged with a timeout since they didn't have any left.

The Colts had to stop the clock with 0:18 left & McGinest may have re-entered then.

by Sebastian C. (not verified) :: Tue, 11/22/2005 - 7:53am

re: PFC1 (and others)
I'm not talking about letting the defense set up but Manning usually waits a long time to snap the ball on almost every down though when the D tries to sub he obviously tries to provoke a penalty being called. Everyone agrees with that, rigth?This sort of provoking a penalty in my eyes is the same as trash-talking towards another player trying to make him snap and commit (And would he not even gain more if he snapped the ball as the defender just enters the field? Imagine a DT hustling over the field jus to see the RB breake a big gain on the other side... Guess the opposite coach would think twice to try and sub the next time.What I'm trying to say is that not everything a player does is the right thing to do only because the rule permits him to.Maybe I haven't expressed this clearly enough in my first statement, but give me credit though since english is not my primary language!

by dryheat (not verified) :: Tue, 11/22/2005 - 10:30am

#65 Yes, the clock is stopped for as long as it takes to get the injured player off the field. I'm not sure what the problem is with that. Player is removed, clock starts up again. Otherwise the official has to make a judgement call whether the player is injured or not. Unless you propose that even in the case of a genuine injury, the clock shouldn't stop.

As for the proposed solution, yeah, it's true teams could possibly get around it, but it would be a lot harder to choreograph which player has to fake injury in order for the Coach to configure the defense he wants with the ability to substitute only one player. Especially if the offensive team is running a no-huddle, and communication between coach and team is reduced to a hand signal.

An even easier solution would be to pass a rule stating that if the team is out of time-outs, players injured in the final two minutes can't return to the game until overtime.

by mactbone (not verified) :: Tue, 11/22/2005 - 10:53am

Re 67:

Isn't it accepted that QBs will change their cadence and snap on different counts? This purpose of that is to confuse the defense and sometimes to catch them offsides or in the wrong position. Since that's already an accepted part of football I don't see it as a stretch to say that Manning's "Attack!" is anything more than a variation on that.

As to "faking injuries", I'm not sure that there's going to be a fair and equitable solution but I think that having trainers employed by the League on hand for every game would be a good idea - these would be used to supplement the training staff for on-field injuries which are usually very severe or possible fakes. The training staff could then tell the officials whether it was definitely real, possibly real or probably faking. I don't know, just a thought. Injuries being what they are you never want to implement rules that might make guys stay on the field when they shouldn't be but you shouldn't let fake injuries be an effective way to stop a strategy. Obviously the league felt that fake injuries were a problem when they instituted the rule that takes away a timeout during the last two minutes if a player is injured.

by Michael David Smith :: Tue, 11/22/2005 - 12:05pm

Sebastian, your English is great. You express yourself well. It's just that most of us disagree with you. I'm guessing you grew up in another culture, and maybe what Manning does would be considered poor sportsmanship elsewhere (I know Japanese baseball has different codes of conduct, for instance), but in American football every quarterback tries to get the ball snapped before the defense is ready. It's just that they're not as good at it as Manning.

by dryheat (not verified) :: Tue, 11/22/2005 - 12:30pm

#70 most recently...

I agree that the QB should try to get the ball off quickly, and if you can trap the defense offside, fine. What I would like see done is a greater tolerance for guys leaving the field. For example, in the NE/IND game, the Patriots made a defensive substitution, and the player leaving was a couple of feet short of the sideline (and well behind the offense) when the Colts snapped it, for a too many men penalty. I don't think this should be an infraction if the player isn't affecting the play on the field. Again, I think the NHL handles it better, where there's not a too many men penalty unless the player getting on the ice plays the puck before the other guy gets off it.

by Michael David Smith :: Tue, 11/22/2005 - 12:45pm

Right, and there was also the too many men penalty called against Denver this year when some Broncos jumped onto the field to celebrate a touchdown, only they jumped onto the field before their teammate crossed the goal line, and that negated the touchdown. It would be worth having the discussion about changing those rules, but as long as the rules are on the books, the officials should enforce them and smart players should exploit them.

Eventually, I think some team will give the league no choice but to do something about faking injuries. Think how ridiculous it could get: Let's say a team is hosting the Colts and thinks, "We'd be better off if this game were played in pouring rain." And let's say that it's sunny at the 1 p.m. kickoff, but the forecast calls for showers at 5 p.m. What would stop that team from telling a player, after every single play, to lie on the ground for 10 minutes faking an injury, go off the field for one play, then come back? The first quarter could last several hours, and then the rain would come. There might not technically be a rule preventing it, just as there technically isn't a rule preventing McGinnest from faking an injury, but at some point the referee would have to step in and put a stop to it.

by B (not verified) :: Tue, 11/22/2005 - 1:33pm

MDS: That was a lovely example of a "slippery slope" argument. There are, however, some problems with your hypothetical. First, it doesn't take 10 minutes to get an injured player off the field. Secondly, stretching out the game like that will cause players' muscles to tighten up as they wait for the game to resume, which would make real injuries more likely. I hope an NFL coach isn't going to to risk the health of his own players just to gain a slight advantage in whether. And weater just isn't that predictable. if a forecast calls for rain at 5, it might not rain till 10, or might not rain at all, so all the writhing and delay tactics might end up being a waste of time.

by Starshatterer (not verified) :: Tue, 11/22/2005 - 1:39pm

It would be worth having the discussion about changing those rules, but as long as the rules are on the books, the officials should enforce them and smart players should exploit them.
So McGinest was cheating* by exploiting a rule on the books, but Manning was just (and is still) being smart?

*McGinest still claims he was, in fact, hurt on that play, and he did not return until play was stopped by an incomplete pass three plays later, which is perfectly consistent with leg cramps, (among other mild injuries).

You don't have to believe McGinest, of course, but the league shouldn't assume he's a liar just because Bill Polian didn't like the way that game turned out.

by Michael David Smith :: Tue, 11/22/2005 - 2:07pm

B, none of your three examples in any way negate what I said. So what if weather is unpredictable and players' muscles will tighten up? I didn't say it would be effective, I said a coach who thought it would be effective could use it. And sometimes it does take 10 minutes to take a player off the field, and if there's no rule on the books to penalize teams for not taking their injured players off the field quickly, it could take 10, 20 or 60 minutes. Slippery slope arguments are often valid.

Starshatterer, I intentionally used the word exploit for exactly that reason. Until the NFL actually does something about faking injuries, teams will use the strategy. Although you might like the strategy because it helps your favorite team against the team most likely to dethrone your favorite team, the vast majority of neutral fans (like me) will be bored to tears if we have delays between every play because players are pretending to be hurt.

by Starshatterer (not verified) :: Tue, 11/22/2005 - 2:55pm

Until the NFL actually does something about faking injuries, teams will use the strategy.
Yep. I'd be perfectly content to see rule changes that penalize fakers without penalizing legitimate* injuries.

The NFL apparently has found the status quo preferable to the sort of draconian measures populating this thread so far. I'm with the league on this one.
the vast majority of neutral fans (like me) will be bored to tears if we have delays between every play because players are pretending to be hurt.
Where is this happening? Is this even close to happening? The last time something close happend, the NFL tightened rules (after the Seahawk game alluded to above in #30).

Your scenario sounds like Krasker's hypothetical take-the-second-half-off-with-continuous-delay-of-game-penalties-when-you-have-a-comfortable-lead gedankenexperiment. Hasn't happened, isn't likely to happen, wake me when it happens.

*I contend that McGinest's behavior at the end of the 2003 Colts-Pats game was perfectly consistent with a legitimate (if mild) injury, regardless of your opinion on whether he was faking.

by Michael David Smith :: Tue, 11/22/2005 - 3:39pm

"I’m with the league on this one."

Yes, Starshatterer, we know. You're with the league because the league didn't do anything to the Patriots when a Patriot faked an injury. Anyone want to take wagers on what Starshatterer will say if a similar loophole in the rules allows the Colts to game the system?

by B (not verified) :: Tue, 11/22/2005 - 4:19pm

First of all, regarding slippery slopes, they are valid arguments in a limited number of cases. I don't feel that MDS's example falls within that range.
That being said, Starshatter brings up a very good point regarding "faking" injuries. How do we know when an injury is faked. I think there is an assumption that if a player returns to the game after only a few plays, that his injury wasn't real, but where do we draw the line? If a player has a cramp, gets the wind knocked out of him, or starts bleeding, the player could be easily patched up in a few minutes. Are we going to say that those injuries arn't "real" or serious enough and the player should just play through them?

by Michael David Smith :: Tue, 11/22/2005 - 4:31pm

Well, then, B, why have the rule that a player has to sit out even one play? If a guy gets the wind knocked out of him, takes a minute for a breather, then feels OK, why shouldn't he be allowed to stay on the field?

To phrase this argument another way: Why doesn't the league just say every team can call an unlimited number of timeouts on defense, but after you take a timeout, one player has to leave the field? Isn't that the same thing?

by B (not verified) :: Tue, 11/22/2005 - 4:55pm

See, I think the injured player should get off the field as quickly as possible, have him replaced with an uninjured one, and then restart the game. The player then gets his breather, and can re-enter the game the next time play stops, like when the offense huddles up before thier 4th and goal play. It's not a perfect solution, but it balances keeping the players safe with keeping the game moving.
Look at it this way, if a star offensive tackle gets a charlie horse, the offense can huddle up and give him time to work it out, whereas if the same thing happens to a defensive player, he'd have to sit out for (1 play, rest of the series, rest of the quarter, 15 minutes). I think one play is a reasonable compromise, but I know making the defender sit out for 15 minutes gives an unreasonable advantage to the offense. On the other hand, what Houston did might have been unreasonable (Four times they used an injury timeout). On the other hand, maybe Houston's players arn't in very good shape and are more likely to get winded or a cramp. Hey, maybe we could just give each team a number of "injury" timeouts, that can be used like regular timeouts, but a player has to be substituted.

by Starshatterer (not verified) :: Tue, 11/22/2005 - 6:59pm

Testy, MDS.

You’re with the league because the league didn’t do anything to the Patriots when a Patriot faked an injury.
I'm with the league because, hmm, let me see. Oh, yes, here's what I wrote:
The NFL apparently has found the status quo preferable to the sort of draconian measures populating this thread so far.
From that, I'd say that I think the proposed solutions are worse than the problem, and was using the case as an example. But it's nice to know that you know my motives better than I do.

Incidently, I never said whether or not I thought McGinest was faking. He says he wasn't. In the absence of anything more than personal bias, I'm not calling the man a liar. Why are you? You've read his mind, in addition to diagnosing what was or was not wrong with his leg two years ago?

Since you're an expert on my opinion, you should note that I think Manning is guilty of simulating the snap nearly every time he "chicken-dances," and this post is the first time I've mentioned it. Since the refs and the NFL seem to think what he does is not a false start, I'm okay with that. I certainly haven't filled pages of posts calling people I don't know liars, reading the minds of other people I don't know and holding forth on it, and calling a team I happen to not root for a bunch of cheats.

by mactbone (not verified) :: Tue, 11/22/2005 - 7:11pm

And then what happens when the team runs out of timeouts?

Look, players fake injuries sometimes - the league even has a rule to discourage it. So, if it's a problem and it's getting worse either remove any penalty for it or stiffen the penalty.

I'd also like to say that it's extremely cheap to use humanity's interest in your well-being to gain an advantage in a sporting event.

by PFC1 (not verified) :: Tue, 11/22/2005 - 9:27pm

RE # 80 you solution to have them sit out one play is exactly what happens now. I think that is not enough because the faking is becoming epidemic. If you watched the Houston at Colts game, you would see what I mean. Even being able to sub one person, and stopping momentum gives the defense a chance to catch its breath, huddle up and call a densive scheme, and switch from a normal defensive set to a nickel package. A lot can be accomplished just by stopping to make one player change.

by Starshatterer (not verified) :: Tue, 11/22/2005 - 9:36pm

PFC1 (#83 )--

Well, they could have the player and the coach both shot...

But that's still no deterrant to the Texans, since the coach and most of the players are already shot. (/rimshot)

by Sebastian C. (not verified) :: Wed, 11/23/2005 - 6:21am

You are right that I grew up in a different culture and therefore have a different way of approaching these kind of discussions. But my point is that there is more than rules. Rules set the general frame of acting, wheter in sports, business, school, or elsewhere. But there is also something you might want to call honor or maybe pride.
Everybody was going nuts when the Pats harrassed the Colt's recievers but it was in the rules so nobody could do anything. So back then it was the right thing to do and as soon as the rules were changed it was wrong?
A discussion went on in my homecountry about a year ago. The CEO of a blue chip enterprise recieved big bucks through a compensation when he left, which was approved by a board of the same company. The jurisdiction permits this payment. The bad part about the whole thing was that over his last couple of years in office the CEO brought the company in deep financial trouble. Now was it right to take this money? With your definition it would have been.
P.S.: Thanks for praising my english, I'm trying my very best ... ;-)

by B (not verified) :: Wed, 11/23/2005 - 12:40pm

How do we know Houston was faking injuries? Here's what we do know. In four instances in that game, a Houston defensive player was removed from play because of a supposed injury and returned to play a few plays later. Bill Polian insists this is proof that the player was injured. I think Mr. Polian is a little paraniod, and it's concievable that the Houston players did infact have an injury, such as a cramp.

by DD Ohio (not verified) :: Wed, 11/23/2005 - 1:13pm

I understand the Competition Committee wanting to adjust the rules to encourage as much offense as possible, because highlight-type offensive plays are the bread and butter of the casual fan and ESPN broadcasts. Baseball does much the same thing with juiced balls, pitcher’s mound height, and, until recently, a blind-eye to ‘roid use.

I think the current NFL rule regarding substitutions favors offenses too much. Yeah, it’s your best 11 against my best 11 on the field, but an offense gains a huge advantage in 11-on-11 scenarios when they run the two-minute drill for whole stretches of the game. The defense has to work harder, because when the offense runs a play, they know where the play is going (unless you’re defending against the Jets’ O, in which case the defense knows where the play is going, too). The movements of the offense, even on broken plays and coming back for the ball and whatnot, are always going to be more economical, from an energy-expenditure standpoint, than what the defense has to do follow them. I think the defense should be allowed some modicum of time to substitute, either once per series, or whenever the play clock stops, or something like that. The only qualifier is that the defense is not allowed to ever take clock-time away from the offense. I’d almost go along with anything to stop the ticky-tack penalties like flagging the 12th defensive player who is sprinting out of bounds and has no impact on the play. And the illegal participation/too-many-men penalty against Denver that MDS mentioned was the worst enforcement of the too-many-men rule that I’ve ever seen.