Pro Football Injury Disclosures

Why do NFL teams release detailed information about their players’ injuries and their “status” for that week’s games (e.g probable, questionable, doubtful, out)? Is this a league requirement? Is it for the media to keep fan’s more involved in the game? I would think strategy-wise it would be better not to disclose this information to the upcoming opponent. Are there sanctions for failure to disclose or inaccurate disclosure (e.g. Can a team release info that a player will play despite being very hurt even though he’s not hurt at all?)?


One other possibility I forgot to mention – Is it possible that this is for the benefit of the thousands of people who bet on the games??

Yes, injury reports are a league requirement. Some say that a large incentive for releasing injury information is, in fact, gambling interests – but you’ll never here Paul Tagliabue say that.

Some coaches work the injury disclosure rules to their advantange. Coach Jeff Fisher of the Tennessee Titans lists almost all of his injured players as “Questionable” (50% chance of playing) if they are not definitively out. Fisher does not want to give opponents the benefit of ranking a player as “Doubtful” (25% chance of playing) or “Probable” (75% chance of playing).

A Denver Broncos fan can chime in on the time Mike Shanahan was fined by the league for faking John Elway’s injury status.

The coaches are as vague as they can get away with in describing the nature of the injuries, just for competitive reasons (and to inhibit opposing players from targeting the affected area in tackles, too - they won’t admit that, either), Hockey injury reporting, and targeting, may be even worse in that regard, though.

Last season, Bill Belichick listed half the Patriots roster as “questionable” in pique over a fine for an earlier semi/non-disclosure. Other coaches have been nailed for activating a player they had called “out” earlier.

The gambling issue is a two-edged sword.

Suppose Ricky Williams got banged up against the Bears on Monday night, and there was some question as to whether he’d be available to play this Sunday against Oakland. Under current rules, Miami HAS to announce how Ricky is doing. If they come out and say that Ricky is hurt too badly to play, that information is valuable to gamblers (who won’t bet on the Dolphins).

But secrecy is not a viable option. If Ricky’s injury status were kept secret, that would give gamblers a lot of incentive to bribe Dolphin insiders to find out the classified information.

So, it’s really safer to make information public. If EVERYBODY knows that Ricky is hurt, that information doesn’t benefit any one person in particular. When information is NOT widely available, it becomes valuable. And when people are willing to PAY for inside information, corruption is inevitable.

Also, hockey has very little gambling on it compared to pro football, so the NHL doesn’t worry as much about the injury issue as the NFL does.