Steelers wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders and the organization was fined $50,000 for an incident during a Oct. 21 game against the Bengals in which Sanders allegedly faked an injury.
Here is what the NFL sent out to the media on Friday:
Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders has been fined $15,000 and the Pittsburgh Steelers $35,000 for the fake injury incident that occurred in the October 21 game against the Cincinnati Bengals.
The fine was issued by NFL Executive Vice President of Football Operations Ray Anderson.
In a letter to Sanders and Steelers general manager Kevin Colbert, Anderson wrote:
“Despite the account given by Sanders during our November 2nd meeting, neither the video sequence of the pertinent plays nor the observations of the on-field official support Sanders’s contention that he was in severe pain, either before, while falling to the ground, lying on the ground, or when he was being assisted in leaving the field. Moreover, after missing the one play that is mandatory pursuant to the playing rules, and receiving no apparent treatment, Sanders returned to the game for a fourth down punt, on which he out sprinted all of his teammates 26 yards down the field, arriving at the ball ahead of all other Pittsburgh players, and then downing the ball. The video of the play shows Sanders running swiftly and effortlessly toward the punted ball, and then leaving the field with no sign of discomfort. Sanders also played the rest of the game without difficulty. Finally, there is no indication that Sanders has had prior cramping issues while in the NFL, and no Steelers’ medical records or information of any kind were presented that would support a finding that he incurred a cramp that was both as serious and as transient as Sanders suggests.”
Anderson also referenced a memo sent to all clubs on September 25, which noted that the issue of faking injuries has been frequently discussed by the Competition Committee. The idea of assessing a charged timeout for every injury timeout would have many unattractive qualities, including depriving a team of timeouts for strategic purposes as well as encouraging injured players to remain in the game to avoid incurring a charged team timeout. As a result, teams were urged to cooperate with the rule.
Consistent with Commissioner Roger Goodell’s principle that clubs must be held accountable for the conduct of their employees, the Steelers were fined $35,000. Anderson specified:
“This fine does not suggest that the club, or any member of its coaching or administrative staff, has taught, suggested, instructed, or condoned the faking of injuries or any other competitive deception. If I believed that to be the case, the discipline would be substantially more. Instead, it reflects the commissioner’s strong view that it is the responsibility of the club to insure that its players are familiar with and in compliance with the league’s competitive rules.”
Both Sanders and the Steelers may appeal the fine by indicating in writing to the commissioner their desire to do so within three days.