- Michael C. Wright, ESPN Chicago Bears reporter
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Teams fake injuries in high school, college and the NFL whether it’s to slow down a high-powered offense or to take away momentum from a charging offense during a key moment in a game. So what former Bears linebacker Brian Urlacher said in his new role as an analyst for Fox Sports 1 wasn’t all that revelatory.
Urlacher said that during his tenure with the Bears, the club utilized the practice of faking injuries to slow down offenses.
So perhaps the next time a player is penalized for faking an injury, he’ll blame the media. But he won’t be able to place the onus on the traditional media.
He can put that on Urlacher.
It’s interesting that a player who so often shunned the media throughout a 13-year career that should land him in the Hall of fame, made a huge splash in the NFL news cycle this week as a member of the media in his new role as a Fox Sports 1 analyst.
Urlacher’s revelation even made the NFL act on Thursday when it sent a memo reminding teams that “faking injuries” can result in disciplinary action and unsportsmanlike conduct penalties. The league cited the Supplemental Note to Rule 4, Section 5, Article 4, which says:
“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."
Feigning injuries isn’t unique to defensive players with so many teams preparing to face no-huddle, up-tempo attacks. Steelers’ receiver Emmanuel Sanders was fined $15,000 for feigning injury last season, and the Steelers were fined $35,000 as a team.
So again, Urlacher shed light on nothing new. Feigning injuries to force a stoppage in play is a widespread practice nobody talks about. If anything, Urlacher just broke locker-room code (Lance Briggs didn't seem offended on Thursday) by revealing tricks of the trade, which is interesting, given that throughout his career, he basically embodied what it was to be a Chicago Bear; and the one thing what we know about that team is it doesn’t make in-house matters public.
Teams fake injuries in high school, college and the NFL whether it’s to slow down a high-powered offense or to take away momentum from a charging offense during a key moment in a game.