NFL Penalizes Bengals for ‘Hiding’ Joe Burrow’s Injury, Which Other Teams Have Committed the Same Offense?

Published 11/17/2023, 12:03 PM EST

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A player showing up on the injury report is just the tip of the iceberg. Behind the scenes is a complex web of a select few people who decide whether to report an injury or not. On the first play of the third quarter of the NFC Championship in 2011, Chicago Bears right tackle J’Marcus Webb fell on center Olin Kreutz’s foot. It caused a Lisfranc injury. “Can you finish?” one of the coaches asked him, as the Bears did not have a backup center. Kreutz answered in the affirmative and finished the game. After that, he spent 6 months in a walking boot.

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Outside of a small clique, no one else got wind of the injury. The NFL’s policy on reporting injuries, states: “If any player has a significant or noteworthy injury, it must be listed on the practice report, even if he fully participates in practice and the team expects that he will play in the team’s next game.” Now the Cincinnati Bengals have been accused of foul play, and breaching this policy term.

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When Joe Burrow walked off the field in the Baltimore Ravens game with an injured wrist, Zac Taylor, Head Coach of the Bengals, said, “That was the first I saw anything about it.” But the NFL smelled something fishy. The Bengals had posted a video on X showing Burrow walking out of the team bus wearing a device on his wrist. Then soon deleted the video. The NFL opened an investigation into whether the team knew about it and still chose to not report it. The moment of reckoning has finally come.

Adam Schefter, a senior NFL Insider, took to X to break the news. “After the investigation by the league the NFL has found the Bengals liable for hiding Joe Burrow injury and not reporting it on the injury report.” The punishment? The NFL snatched the Bengals’ 2024 1st round and 3rd round picks, and a 2025 6th round pick. Additionally, the team was also fined half a million dollars.

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Tough luck for the Bengals. After shelling out $275 million to retain the star QB for five years, Joe Burrow has turned out to be a gift that keeps giving. But unfortunately, this is not a one-off incident. Several teams have been found guilty of hiding player injuries in the past. Some saw the hammer of justice come down on them, while some, like Kreutz and the Bears, went unscathed.

Teams that have been caught hiding player injuries

In October 2018, the league caught the Las Vegas Raiders for not properly reporting guard Kelechi Osemele’s injury. He was listed as “questionable” for the game against the Los Angeles Chargers, but they did not downgrade him to “out” when he did not fly out with the team for the game. This inaction cost the Raiders $20,000.

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USA Today via Reuters

In Week 2 of the 2019 season, the league punished the Pittsburgh Steelers and HC Mike Tomlin $75,000 and $25,000 respectively, for not properly reporting a player injury. Ben Roethlisberger seemed to be already injured but was listed on the injury report as “not injury related” in the week leading up to the Seattle Seahawks game. During the game, he sustained an elbow injury which forced him to miss the remainder of the entire season.

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The Buffalo Bills did not list DE Jerry Hughes as having a wrist injury. However, he posted a note on his X account stating that the injury wasn’t going to let “my wrist slow me down as the team was so close to achieving our goal of an AFC East banner and playoff games.” The NFL took swift action and opened an investigation. However, luckily for him, the NFL found no violation, and the case was closed. Now, how will the Bengals manage their upcoming seasons with this hefty penalty?

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Written by:

Jakso James

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I am a hardcore believer in the ‘Mamba Mentality’, which certainly applies to the NFL. The sport is not just about physical prowess but also demands a powerful mindset. Growing up, I spent time with athletes on the neighborhood soccer field.
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Edited by:

Garima Yadav

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