By Michael Hurley, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) — The Super Bowl took place this past Sunday (perhaps you’ve heard), and as anyone would reasonably expect, the game and the fallout has dominated the national sports discussion over the past two days. From the plays on the field, to the postgame press conferences, to the reaction shots of siblings, to the odd smooches of pizza salesmen, to the frightening image of a baby/monkey/puppy commercial, there’s been a lot to talk about.
What hasn’t been talked about, really, is this bit of news that the NFL slipped out in the hours leading up to the Super Bowl: the Colts will not be punished for any violations about their injury reporting regarding quarterback Andrew Luck.
That the NFL deemed “no violation” took place is timely, considering just this past week both commissioner Roger Goodell and Dean Blandino said that “no violations” were found in the league’s “random spot checks” on air pressure throughout the season. When asked Friday what exactly a violation may be, Goodell’s answer was vague. As a result, it’s hard to know exactly what would constitute a “violation” in the case of Luck and the Colts.
As a refresher, the timeline on Andrew Luck’s injury is as follows:
*On Nov. 1, Fox Sports’ Jay Glazer reported that Luck had been playing with broken ribs for five weeks. The Colts never listed a rib injury for Luck on any injury report prior to that date. Luck was listed with a shoulder injury in Weeks 4-6, and he did not play in Weeks 4 or 5.
*Also on Nov. 1, after the Glazer report, the NFL announced that it will investigate the Colts’ injury reporting.
*Luck played in games in Weeks 8 and 9, on Nov. 2 and Nov. 8 respectively. For the Week 8 game, Luck was not on the injury report at all. In Week 9, Luck was on the report with an ankle injury.
*After that Week 9 game against the Broncos, the Colts announced that Luck had suffered a lacerated kidney and partial abdominal tear and would miss 2-6 weeks. The kidney injury was suffered after the quarterback absorbed a routine hit, fueling speculation that the kidney was damaged from a broken rib.
*In January, the Indianapolis Star reported that Luck “sustained torn cartilage on two of his ribs and was still coping with significant pain after returning to the lineup for four games in late October and early November.” Pete Ward, the Colts’ COO, confirmed a rib cartilage injury, but claimed it wasn’t significant enough to warrant mention on the injury report. Again, Luck was not listed on injury reports during that stretch for a rib injury.
So, why does it all matter?
Well, it matters in the NFL because the NFL says it matters.
“All players with significant or noteworthy injuries must be listed on the report, even if the player takes all the reps in practice, and even if the team is certain that he will play in the upcoming game,” the league’s injury policy states. “This is especially true of key players and those players whose injuries have been covered extensively by the media. This policy is of paramount importance in maintaining the integrity of the game.”
Integrity of the game. That is, after all, of great importance to the Colts as well, which the world learned via Colts GM Ryan Grigson’s email to league officials. That is, the email that launched “DeflateGate.”
“All the Indianapolis Colts want is a completely level playing field,” Grigson wrote to NFL execs Mike Kensil and Dave Gardi. “Thank you for being vigilant stewards of that not only for us but for the shield and overall integrity of our game.”
Clearly, a level playing field is all the Colts want, and so if they were failing to disclose significant injuries to their most important player, such behavior would reflect poorly on the organization and the league as a whole.
Had the Colts been found to have been skirting the rules, they could have been punished with fines and/or with the loss of a draft pick, as well as the possibility of a suspension for the people involved.
But, according to the NFL, there were no violations. It was an investigation so thorough and precise that league officials felt it best to announce their findings at 10 a.m. on Super Bowl Sunday. There was no violation because the NFL said there was no violation. Nothing to see here. Move along.