Sin of Omission
Colts facing questions over Andrew Luck’s allegedly broken ribs
Colts quarterback Andrew Luck is currently playing with multiple fractured ribs, according to Jay Glazer of Fox Sports. The report has created a controversy for Indianapolis, which did not list Luck on its injury report before playing Carolina on Monday night.
NFL policy requires that “information on all injured players be supplied by clubs to the league office, the opposing team and local media each game week of the regular season and postseason.” If the Colts knew Luck was injured and did not report it, the could face a fine or possibly lose a draft choice.
Such a major injury could help explain some of Luck’s uneven play this season. He has thrown 12 interceptions in six starts and has a 71.6 quarterback rating. Luck threw two touchdowns with three interceptions while completing less than 50 percent of his passes in a 29–26 overtime loss to the Panthers. Sports Illustrated’s Peter King said “Luck’s mechanics stunk (Monday), like he was trying to compensate for something physically” during the game. Luck dealt with a shoulder injury that caused him to miss two games earlier this season.
The Colts have declined to comment on the condition of the quarterback’s ribs. When asked if his ribs were broken, Luck said, “I don’t know. I’m not getting into that right now.”
The injury report rules are meant to put teams on an even playing field, giving teams “a full and complete rendering of player availability.” The way an opponent prepares for an injured Luck — or backup Matthew Hasselbeck — would be very different from the game plan for Luck when he is healthy and able to make all the throws in the playbook.
Indianapolis general manager Ryan Grigson issued a statement this week defending the team’s injury reports.
Panthers head coach Ron Rivera had his own thoughts on injury reports Saturday, supposedly after he heard the Colts had hidden Luck’s injury. He said being forced to publish injury reports puts teams at a disadvantage.
“I worry about my players being exposed to situations, circumstances on the football field — the more people know. Why?” Rivera said.
The Colts chose to avoid exposing Luck to those circumstances — like allowing defenders to target his injury — by not letting anyone know about it. If the Colts coaches agree with Rivera and thought keeping the injury quiet was better for their player’s health, people may begin to wonder what benefit NFL injury reports have.
Baltimore head coach John Harbaugh is also on record saying he doesn’t like the league’s policy. Harbaugh said he doesn’t understand why a player should be on the injury report if he doesn’t miss practice or a game and he doesn’t want to be included on the report.
If a player is not hindered enough by an injury that he will miss time, the Colts, and probably Rivera and Harbaugh, would argue that listing him on the report would only encourage opponents to try to exploit that injury. It doesn’t even the playing field, they would argue, but actually puts the injured player at a disadvantage.
The NFL will review the situation to determine if Indianapolis did anything wrong. Rivera may be glad if the NFL decides to fine Indianapolis, but the truth is he and the Colts are on the same side.