Remember NFL defensive end Brady Smith?
I might be the only person in Seattle who does, and the reason I remember him is that he unexpectedly missed the game when the Atlanta Falcons came to Seattle in 2005 in Week 2 of the regular season.
I remember it because Smith wasn’t on the Falcons’ injury report all week, and then lo and behold there was a question about him on Friday after the team had flown to Seattle, and sure enough he did not play on Sunday because of a quadriceps injury.
The Falcons said he practiced all week. No one could be sure, though, since the team’s practices were closed to reporters and anyone outside the team.
I remember Smith because that is the kind of thing the NFL’s injury report is supposed to prevent. A team hiding an injury to a starter all week and then stepping onto the field without that player in uniform.
That’s a pretty straightforward system: You should tell the public at large – and by extension the opponent – those players whose status may be uncertain because of injury.
This thing with Richard Sherman and his knee? I can’t tell you why that’s important other than the fact that by all appearances Seattle failed to follow the league’s protocol for reporting injuries. But before we dive into the stupidity of that protocol – and it is supremely stupid – let’s acknowledge why the NFL will be doing if it punishes Seattle.
It will be punishing Seattle for not listing a player on the injury report who never missed a play – let alone a game – because of injury.
But according to the league’s injury report protocol, the Seahawks should have listed him. He was hurt the second half of the season, according to coach Pete Carroll. He did regularly sit out a day of practice each week, though to be clear it was the final practice of each week when there is the least amount of physical exertion.
One thing I can’t get past: Why should Sherman have been listed on the injury report? I mean, other than the fact the NFL requires it.
This is a sport with an injury rate of 100 percent. Everyone is hurt to some degree. And if there’s not a question of whether a guy will play or not, I honestly can’t see the point in requiring that player’s injury to be listed.
I can think of lots of reasons not to from telling an opponent about a potential vulnerability to even the possibility that player’s injury will be targeted.
The league states specifically, though, that any “significant” injury must be listed even if the player did not miss practice. And when in doubt, teams are instructed to err on the side of listing the ailment.
The result of this investigation of the Seahawks isn’t going to be a more transparent injury report. It’s going to be more names included on the injury report with ailments that won’t affect that player’s availability, which is the reason why Tom Brady spent years on the Patriots’ injury report with a shoulder injury despite never missing a game because of it.
Hey, rules are rules, right? And the injury report rules may have started with a very specific – and understandable – goal of preventing teams from hiding an injury that will affect a player’s availability.
That goal has been twisted and torqued by the league’s front office to the point that the Seahawks are about to be punished for failing to list a player who never missed a game because of injury in a league where everyone is playing hurt.