Coach Chin admits to fudging injury reports
POSTED 2:42 p.m. EST; UPDATED 3:15 p.m. EST, November 23, 2007
COACH CHIN ADMITS TO FUDGING INJURY REPORTS
Maybe former Steelers coach Bill Cowher really doesn't intend to return to the NFL.
Why else would the Chin Man admit to USA Today that he periodically lied on the injury report while running the show in the 'Burgh?
"Sometimes when a guy had an ankle [injury], I might list it as a knee, just because I didn't want people knowing where to take shots at my players," Cowher told USA Today.
This admission is contained within a broad analysis of the league's injury-reporting system, which appears on the front page of the November 23 edition.
We mention it all here because, as anyone who frequents this address knows, the integrity of the injury reports is one of those dead horses that we like to beat from time to time.
But the USA Today item isn't as thorough (or accurate) as it could be.
Ignored, for example, is the NFL's definition of "probable," which is perhaps the most misunderstood term in the entire pro football lexicon.
Though many media members and some teams think that "probable" means there's a 75-percent chance that the player will play, the official definition is that there is a virtual certainty that the player will be available for normal duty.
Although technically correct, USA Today drops the ball when describing "probable" as merely a "better than 50% chance of playing."
And while USA Today correctly points out that the league looked into whether the Texans violated the rules last month when running back Ahman Green didn't play against the Chargers despite being listed as probable, USA Today didn't address the reality that the league (as we've been told by NFL spokesman Greg Aiello) has since exonerated the Texans, even though we still don't understand why.
More importantly, USA Today overlooked one of the more intriguing story lines arising from Week Eleven.
Steve Tasker of CBS repeatedly said during the Chiefs-Colts broadcast that Indy kicker Adam Vinatieri has been hiding an injury to his plant leg.
After the game, coach Tony Dungy denied that Vinatieri is hurt.
We tried in vain to contact the P.R. department at CBS Sports in an effort to get clarification of Tasker's remarks, or to talk to him directly about it.
Amazingly, no one in the "real" media has tried to follow up on what could be direct proof of prevarication (thanks, Tiki) by the defending Super Bowl champs.
Why would the Colts fail to disclose the status of Vinatieri's leg?
As Cowher said himself, the Colts likely don't want other teams taking a shot at Vinatieri's plant leg.
So while we like the fact that the NFL tries to create transparency when it comes to the injury reports, more work needs to be done to ensure that transparency exists.
Until significant penalties (i.e., something more than a maximum fine of $25,000) and both available and distributed, we fear that there will be enough potential inside information to entice gamblers and those with gambling interests to do what they have to do to try to find it out.
And that's the first step toward creating unwanted relationships between team employees (players or otherwise) and organized crime.
Get your facts first, and then you can distort them as much as you please. Mark Twain