The Seahawks have received only a letter warning and no other penalty for not disclosing that cornerback Richard Sherman had a knee injury this season.
The Seahawks have received a warning from the NFL, but will get no other penalty, after the league reviewed the circumstances of how the team handled disclosing an injury to cornerback Richard Sherman, sources told the Seattle Times, confirming a report earlier Tuesday from the league-owned NFL Network.
The NFL determined that the Seahawks violated the league’s injury report policy by not listing Sherman after he suffered a knee injury that head coach Pete Carroll called “significant.”
However, the league also determined that the Seahawks did not violate the rule intentionally, instead guilty of misinterpreting the rule with Seattle thinking it did not have to disclose that Sherman had a knee injury because he did not miss practices or any game snaps due to the injury — the league told the Seahawks that Sherman should have been listed.
The NFL also went along with Seattle’s argument that when Sherman missed practice for what were listed as non-injury-related reasons he was getting what is commonly referred to as “a veteran’s rest day.” (Beginning with the week after a tie at Arizona on Oct. 23, Sherman typically missed one practice a week for NIR reasons. He also missed a practice the week of the Tampa Bay game on Nov. 27 with an ankle injury).
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The league also has let the Seahawks know that if there are any future violations of the injury report policy that the Sherman violation will be taken into account in determining discipline.
ESPN reported last month that the NFL was considering docking Seattle a second-round pick in the 2017 draft for not disclosing the injury, elevating what is already a penalty of a loss of a fifth-round pick for violating rules for off-season workouts. That penalty was handed out last September.
That the NFL will give Seattle only a warning means the Seahawks will still lose the fifth-round pick for the OTA violation, but nothing more.
Carroll revealed the existence of Sherman’s injury on the Monday following the season-ending divisional playoff loss at Atlanta, first on his weekly radio show and then in a press conference a few hours later, saying that Sherman played much of the second half of the year with a knee injury that he called “significant.” He did not say specifically when Sherman suffered the injury (and Sherman also never mentioned it during the season).
Carroll made the revelation as he tried to explain what he thought was causing some of Sherman’s uncharacteristic behavior this season, including two sideline outbursts and an increasingly testy relationship with reporters, saying that playing through the injury had led to some frustration.
The team, though, did not list Sherman on any injury report, and after hearing Carroll’s comments the league investigated if that violated the NFL’s rules regarding injury reports.
The NFL requires teams to reveal injuries in large part due to concerns about gambling and in an effort to be as transparent as possible to the public about which players will be available to play.
The Seahawks countered that Sherman was never in danger of missing any playing time and that he did not miss any snaps in games due to the injury — and, in fact, took on the added role of punt returner briefly late in the season — nor missed any snaps in practice. He also played in the Pro Bowl, making an interception, which added to the team’s defense that Sherman’s injury was not one that ever put him in danger of missing any playing time.
“Honestly, I didn’t realize we hadn’t revealed it,’’ Carroll said during his press conference two days after the season ended in a divisional playoff loss to at Atlanta. “I don’t even remember what game it was, it was somewhere in the middle … I don’t know. He was fine about it. He didn’t miss anything. The same with Russell (Wilson), he was fine about it. I don’t know how they do that, but they did.”
Asked a follow-up about why Sherman was not listed on the injury report, Carroll said “I don’t know. I’m feeling like I screwed that up with not telling.
The New York Jets were fined $125,000 in 2009 for a violation regarding an injury to Brett Favre. However, the Colts were not punished last year for not revealing that quarterback Andrew Luck had been playing with broken ribs.
Pittsburgh Steelers running back Le’Veon Bell disclosed after the season he had been playing with a groin injury that the team had never mentioned on its injury reports, which led Pro Football Talk to wonder if the Seahawks were not penalized due to the league knowing that if it penalized one team it would have to begin to penalize every team that might appear to be shielding injuries.