It has been nearly a decade since the NFL punished Emmanuel Sanders for faking an injury in order to deliberately stop play during a game. But the league issued a stern warning to all 32 teams over the weekend regarding players who do just that — and there will be consequences.
In a memo obtained by Pro Football Talk, the league said it has noticed a rise in deliberate stoppages in play via fake injury, and the NFL is bringing down the hammer and will issue fines for such behavior.
If you need proof that the practice of deliberately stopping play is alive and well, check out what happened during Sunday’s game between the Cincinnati Bengals and the Kansas City Chiefs.
“The NFL continues to emphasize the importance of upholding the integrity of the game and competitive fairness as our highest priority,” the memo said, calling the practice of deliberately stopping play an “unfair act.”
“We have observed multiple instances of clubs making a deliberate attempt to stop play unnecessarily this season. Any deliberate attempt by a team and/or player to stop play unnecessarily; prolong or delay the process; improperly take advantage of a stoppage in play; or influence the actions of an ATC Spotter will be’ considered an ‘unfair act’ and may result in discipline, in addition to any on-field penalty assessed by the Game Officials.”
The memo went on to detail that “clubs and individuals determined to be in violation of this rule will be subject to League discipline ‘to include a minimum fine of $350,000 for the club, a minimum fine of $100,000 for the head coach, a minimum fine of $50,000 for assistant coaches, if applicable, and a minimum fine of $50,000 for players.”
Additionally, players may also be punished by being suspended, and teams could lose draft picks.