New Orleans Saints defensive end Cameron Jordan said he feels his integrity has been questioned after the NFL fined him $50,000 for allegedly faking an injury in last Monday night's game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Jordan denied the claim and said he has a legitimate injury that resulted in an MRI last Tuesday. Jordan said he initially thought he injured his ankle, which caused him to temporarily go down to one knee during the game before walking to the sideline, but MRIs showed it was actually a midfoot sprain.
"I feel like my name's low-key been slandered. Like I haven't played with more or less," said Jordan, who did not miss a game due to injury in his career before this season. "And even then, I went out, went to the tent, got taped up ... went back to the playing field and finished the game."
He added later: "In terms of how I play this game and how hard I play this game, I was like 'Yo, if this was a civil lawsuit, I'd countersue for triple the amount.' The amount of work that I've put in to be a part of the league, the amount of honor I take in playing this game, yeah, that's why I also laugh at this. ... You know my track record, you know I'll do everything I can to try to be on the field and try to be part of the team."
He told reporters on Monday that he plans to appeal the fine but feels like the NFL shouldn't make him go through the process.
"The fact that I have to go through an appeal is almost funny in itself," Jordan said. "If anything, the league should be like 'Hey, call in and be like there was an actual [injury] and that's the end of it,' but apparently, there's almost a half million dollars' worth of fines, so you have to go through an appeal process."
The Buccaneers were facing third-and-17 while trailing 16-3 in the fourth quarter. Jordan rushed toward Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady and hit the ground as he tried to sack him. Jordan quickly got back up, walked a few steps, looked at the sideline and went down on one knee, appearing to point to his leg as Brady stayed on the field on fourth down.
Brady initially appeared to want to go for it on fourth down as Jordan left the field with athletic trainers and went to the sideline, but the Buccaneers ended up punting. Jordan went into the injury tent but reentered the game four plays into the Buccaneers' next offensive drive.
The Saints were fined $350,000, coach Dennis Allen $100,000, co-defensive coordinator Ryan Nielsen $50,000 and Jordan $50,000 for their roles in the fourth-quarter delay, ESPN's Adam Schefter reported.
"In terms of how I play this game and how hard I play this game, I was like 'Yo, if this was a civil lawsuit, I'd countersue for triple the amount.' The amount of work that I've put in to be a part of the league, the amount of honor I take in playing this game, yeah, that's why I also laugh at this."Cameron Jordan
Allen declined to comment much on the matter, other than to say that Jordan is injured. He said he hasn't had any communication with the league about the reasoning behind the fine.
"I will say that I don't think our team did anything wrong," Allen said.
Jordan said he didn't know there was an issue until his agent called last week to tell him a fine was coming, and even then, he initially thought the fine was meant just for him.
"I was like, fine for what?" Jordan asked. "You hit a quarterback too hard, you can catch a fine. I was like, 'Dang, the play I did get hurt, I did grab Tom Brady. I didn't put a pillow down before I hit the ground, that could've been a fine there.' But no, it's because I got hurt and was trying to walk off the field and my team was doing the right thing by me, by making sure it wasn't anything more than it was."
Jordan said he was worried after the game about the severity of the injury. He said that his foot has been swollen since the game and he just started running again on Monday after spending the bye week rehabbing.
Jordan was hopeful he'll be declared OK to play by the end of the week but said it's up to team doctors.
Jordan's teammate Taysom Hill said he talked to Jordan on the plane ride home about his injury and was shocked to hear it was being questioned.
"I know that he's had an MRI and they'll send the images I guess to the league office, and they'll go from there," Hill said.
"I love that, because here's a whole MRI that says I was actually hurt, which was crazy, that somebody can tell you, not even how you feel, but how bad you're actually hurt," Jordan said in response to hearing Hill's comments. "To address, not even the elephant in the room, the apparent fine that you can catch while being hurt, sorry I tweaked something in my foot?"
Jordan was asked if faking injuries is a common problem across the league and whether the NFL should be trying to clamp down on those issues. Cincinnati Bengals safety Jessie Bates III was also fined $50,000 for allegedly faking an injury, which he told reporters he plans to appeal.
"If we're going to curtail something, can we curtail like, you know, quarterbacks looking for flags after they get hit? ... It's a part of the game. But in terms of somebody going down, you can't tell me that if somebody has a soft tissue injury, whether it be a cramp, or a hamstring pull, or whatever it is, how does someone tell you that it's not what you're feeling? You can't prove that. And for me, mine is actually something that you can prove. I had a fat foot for a week."
Said Saints linebacker Demario Davis: "We play a dangerous game; nobody should be questioning if somebody gets hurt in this game. We're not allowed to talk about medical stuff, and therefore people watching the game shouldn't be trying to do the same."