Team changes injury policy
By Jason Cole
Aug 11, 2004
(herald.com) - The Dolphins joined an increasing number of NFL teams that will no longer disclose more than the minimal information required regarding injuries.
That means no information for now -- and Dolphins players seemed happy about that.
Inspired by a number of events -- such as coverage of David Boston's season-ending knee injury -- and following the lead of the Super Bowl champion New England Patriots, the Dolphins will no longer give out injury information during training camp and the exhibition season, coach Dave Wannstedt said.
''From now on, unless we have a roster move, we're going to go by the NFL rules as far as reporting injuries,'' Wannstedt said. ``Everybody is out here watching practice, so there's not going to be any update as far as injuries until we have to, which is the first week of the season.''
During the regular season, the Dolphins are expected to follow the NFL guidelines regarding injuries, listing only the body part that is injured and whether that player is probable, questionable, doubtful or out for that week's game.
Unlike the past, the team will no longer give specifics on injuries. For instance, the team will reveal if a player has a knee injury, but it won't disclose if it's a sprain or a torn ligament.
Players were advised Monday during a team meeting to abide by the new policy, and they seemed happy to oblige.
MUM'S THE WORD
''As a player, you really don't want people to know all the things that are wrong with you,'' safety Arturo Freeman said. ``As long as they [the coaches and management] know, fine. But I don't want it written all the time what's wrong with me. I don't want the other team to know.''
Like many players, defensive tackle Larry Chester has suffered because others knew his injuries. Last season, offensive linemen tried to cut-block him by attacking his injured left ankle. Chester eventually covered both ankles to keep opponents guessing.
''Of course people are going to attack you if they think you're hurt,'' Freeman said.
But with every action, there are negative reactions depending on the circumstances.
Take the situation Indianapolis endured in 2001 with star running back Edgerrin James. For two weeks, the Colts listed James on the injury report as possibly being able to play with a knee injury.
It turned out James had a torn anterior cruciate ligament, eventually requiring season-ending surgery. James became angry with Colts president Bill Polian for making it appear James might be able to play. James felt it appeared as if he were faking an injury.
NFL spokesman Greg Aiello said there is no policy regarding training camp and the exhibition season because this time of year is normally open in terms of information.
''It's traditionally open in the preseason, and it has all been very transparent in terms of who is practicing and not practicing,'' Aiello said. ``Teams have usually been very responsive about when a player is injured or not practicing.''
Dolphins spokesman Harvey Greene said ''there's not one reason'' the Dolphins chose to change the policy. However, the team was upset by stories discussing the fact Boston had a sore knee before practicing last Friday, the day he tore the patellar tendon in his left knee.
Thus, the Dolphins have joined the secrecy trend.
In New England, the world champs have turned the concept of keeping information under wraps into an art form. Last season, kicker Adam Vinatieri went weeks without revealing he was suffering from a sore back.
In the meantime, Vinatieri endured mild criticism of his play without explanation from the team. In the end, the Patriots won a title and Vinatieri suffered no serious ramifications.
However, there is some concern that failure to disclose an injury can hurt a player in the long run. In 1995, for instance, former Dolphins guard Keith Sims played on a painful turf toe injury after receiving assurances from coach Don Shula the team would reward him in the offseason, when Sims was scheduled to be a free agent.
When Shula retired and Jimmy Johnson took over, the assurances disappeared.
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