Football: Faking Or Feigning An Injury

Before I discuss what penalties exist for faking an injury to gain an advantage (e.g. slowing down an up-tempo offense, stopping the clock when one’s team is out of timeouts), I want to note something I find interesting.

College and professional football have limited directives regarding this practice, which soccer (a.k.a. football) calls diving, flopping, simulation, or Schwalbe (German for “swallow”).  Soccer actually appears more advanced in its rules in this regard, as it directly penalizes these acts with on-field punishment (i.e. a yellow or red card).

College football has no such rule.  It merely explains that such behavior is unethical and should be discouraged.  (See Page 13-14/216.)

Professional football similarly has no clear rule in this regard.  NFL Rule 12, Section 3, Article 1(i) states:

Using acts or words by the defensive team that are designed to disconcert an offensive team at the snap. An official must blow his whistle immediately to stop play.

(See Page 10/11)

This rule does not directly address feigning injury, though.  In 2013, NFL Bigwigs sent all teams a little reminder memorandum regarding this practice, which reportedly noted that all personnel should discourage the practice or suffer potential “fines of coaches, players, and clubs, suspensions or forfeiture of draft choices.”

Drafting a rule prohibiting feigning injury would lead to officials needing to decide on the spot if a player is in fact injured.  Should an official conduct a medical examination during a game?


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