For once, can we all join together as a division and request that Cleveland coach Eric Mangini, uh, keep our names out of his mouth?
Mangini spent part of his Monday news conference suggesting that several of Detroit’s defensive players faked injuries to force a stoppage in play Sunday and slow down his vaunted no-huddle offense. According to this report from Mary Kay Cabot of the Cleveland Plain Dealer, Mangini implied it was a strategic decision from Lions coach Jim Schwartz.
I admit I haven’t finished watching the video of the game, but the official gamebook notes four occasions when a Lions defensive player suffered an injury that was classified with a “probable” return. No matter how glaring, however, Mangini should be embarrassed to have brought up the issue. He should be more concerned about how his team lost a 24-3 first-quarter lead and committed a dumb penalty on what should have been the final play of the game.
Here’s the simple truth: FAKING INJURIES IS NOT AGAINST NFL RULES. So even if the Lions did employ that strategy, which nothing short of an overt admission could ever prove, Mangini’s complaint represents nothing but sour grapes.
It’s true that the NFL would prefer teams not make a habit of this strategy. But here’s all it says about the issue in the NFL rule book:
The Rules Committee deprecates feigning injuries, with subsequent withdrawal, to obtain a timeout without penalty. Coaches are urged to cooperate in discouraging this practice.
(Don’t worry. I had to look up “deprecate” in the dictionary. It’s not what you think. It means “disapproves.”)
In this instance, all Mangini has to go by is the circumstantial evidence of “a lot” of injuries while the Browns were on offense, as he put it Monday. Has he looked at the Lions’ weekly injury report this year? If anything, circumstantial evidence should side with the Lions. They’re always getting hurt.
If the Lions were intentionally flopping Sunday, it didn’t help much. The Browns finished with 37 points and 439 total yards. Schwartz termed the accusation “out of bounds” while speaking with Detroit reporters and I agree.