Nothing malicious. Nothing even “out of the norm.”
That’s how Seahawks general manager John Schneider describes the team not reporting Richard Sherman’s knee injury coach Pete Carroll said the star cornerback had late this past season.
Schneider spoke Thursday night to Sirius XM satellite radio from the Senior Bowl in Mobile, Alabama, about the league investigating Seattle for an apparent violation of NFL rules on listing injuries in practice and game-injury reports. Carroll revealed two days after the Seahawks’ playoff loss at Atlanta Sherman played the last part of his tumultuous 2016 season with a injury to the medial collateral ligament in his knee. The team did not list a knee injury on any daily practice report or injury report two days before games.
“Obviously something I can’t really get into ... but we feel like we didn’t do anything that was out of the norm or trying to avoid any rules, by any stretch of the imagination,” Schneider told Mark Dominik on Sirius’ “Late Hits” show. “All docs, all orthopods will tell you have to manage the player and not the MRI, the patient and not the MRI. And that’s what we did.
“I mean,” the GM added with a chuckle, “he never missed (a game). The guy was a total stud about it.”
Indeed, it is not out of the norm for a star player to not miss time through injuries. This is a sport in which games are essentially car crashes on almost every play.
Despite the league’s policy on reporting injuries, it’s also not out of the norm for no one to know exactly what pains each player – especially if he doesn’t miss a game because of it. If you -- or the league – believes every team lists every injury to every hurting player every week, we’ve got Mount Rainier to sell you.
But what is out of the NFL norm is for a coach to reveal a star’s injury after the season, as an alibi to explain all that was weighing on him, after that injury never showed up on a practice or injury report.
“Pete, you know, was in a press conference at the end of the season and was, quite frankly, sticking up for the different bumps and bruises and issues that Richard had.
“So I think that’s why they (the NFL’s investigators) have gone ahead with this. But we feel like we didn’t do anything that was malicious, at all.”
The league is considering taking a second-round draft choice from the Seahawks for not reporting Sherman’s injury.
Sherman this week at the Pro Bowl in Orlando, Florida, called that possibility “some foolishness” and “harsh.”
He missed one day of practice each week before six of the final seven games of the season. Each of those times the Seahawks listed the reason on the daily practice report as “NIR,” not injury related.
The Pittsburgh Steelers are reportedly under NFL investigation for the same thing Seattle is. They did not report a groin injury that sidelined star running back Le’Veon Bell for most of last weekend’s AFC championship game. Bell said after the game and coach Mike Tomlin confirmed Bell had been "managing" a groin injury last few weeks before Pittsburgh’s loss at New England.
Bell didn’t miss a practice all season. He took Wednesdays off during the playoffs, with the "NIR" designation on the daily practice report in those three weeks this month.
“NIR” is starting to stand for “not intelligent reporting.”
When asked in his season-ending press conference the day he revealed Sherman’s injury why he was doing it only then, after the season had ended, Carroll said: "I don't know. I'm feeling like I screwed that up with not telling you that because that happened, but he was OK.
“So I don't know. He never missed anything, which is probably why."
Carroll also said: “Honestly, I didn’t realize we hadn’t revealed it.”
The league reminded all 32 of its teams before this past season of its practice- and injury-report policies.
They state: “The Practice Report provides clubs and fans with an accurate description of a player’s injury status and how much he participated in practice during the week. 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. This is especially important for key players whose injuries may be covered extensively by the media.”
This is the fourth time in six years the NFL has investigated Carroll and the Seahawks for rules violations. The first three times were for too much hitting during offseason minicamps and organized team activities (OTA) that by rule are to be non-contact drills. In September the league fined the team $400,000, Carroll $250,000 and took away Seattle’s fifth-round draft choice in April for repeated violations of “excessive contact” in OTAs.