WR Sanders, Steelers fined $50,000 by NFL for faking injury
During the fourth quarter of Pittsburgh Steelers’ 24-17 win over the Cincinnati Bengals, Emmanuel Sanders appeared to be in great pain as he collapsed to the ground, firmly grasping the back of his leg.
The NBC game broadcasters openly speculated whether Emmanuel Sanders was deliberately faking an injury to save the Pittsburgh Steelers a timeout.
Initially, Emmanuel Sanders refuted claims of the injury being faked and only in recent weeks acknowledged that the NFL was looking into the incident. NFL executive president of football operations Ray Anderson met with Emmanuel Sanders last week before announcing the league’s decision to fine player $15,000 and the Pittsburgh Steelers $35,000 for faking the injury.
However, Ray Anderson indicated that the NFL found no evidence that the Pittsburgh Steelers were involved at an organizational level in encouraging Emmanuel Sanders into faking the injury or condoning the incident on the basis of gaining an edge in the game. Ray Anderson added that if the NFL had come across such evidence, the discipline or fine against the team and organization would have been more severe.
"Instead, it reflects the commissioner's strong view,” Ray Anderson continued, “that it is the responsibility of the club to insure that its players are familiar with and in compliance with the league's competitive rules."
The NFL contested the legitimacy of Emmanuel Sanders’ injury, citing video evidence in an open letter to the player and the Pittsburgh Steelers general manager Kevin Colbert.
Emmanuel Sanders was sidelined for only one play while a team trainer waited on him, and he was back in the game with the Pittsburgh Steelers punting on the next play and didn’t leave the game again. The 25-year-old Emmanuel Sanders seemingly not in severe pain or physically limited following the injury as he ran past his teammates and downed the ball.
"The video of the play shows Sanders running swiftly and effortlessly toward the punted ball,” wrote Ryan Anderson, “and then leaving the field with no sign of discomfort. Sanders also played the rest of the game without difficulty."
The NFL served teams and coaches with a memo in September about faking injuries and warned such incidents could be disciplined with hefty fines towards player, coaches or teams and the confiscation of draft picks.
It appears the NFL got through to most teams because this is the first injury faking incident that drew discipline from the league this season.