At all levels of football, the officials will stop the game any time a player goes down with an injury, and that player must sit out for one play. And at all levels of football, some coaches and players game the system by having a player pretend to be injured so the officials will stop the clock and give his team time to change their personnel before the next play.
Now there’s growing momentum at the college level for a rules change that would deter faking injuries, perhaps by requiring any player who gets injured to stay out for the rest of the series, and not just for one play.
Todd Berry, executive director of the American Football Coaches Association told ESPN that his group asked the NCAA rules committee to address players faking injuries.
“Our ethics committee, which suggests rules changes to the NCAA, said by unanimous consent that this has got to stop,” Berry said. “So they asked the rules committee to do something about it. It’s bad for football.”
The NFL has occasionally cracked down on players faking injuries. In 2012, Emmanuel Sanders and the Steelers were fined when Sanders blatantly faked an injury to buy the Steelers a timeout. But the officials on the field simply aren’t equipped to determine in the moment whether a player is faking, and so they have no choice but to stop the clock any time a player indicates he needs medical attention. Requiring injured players to sit out for a full series would help to ensure that there’s adequate time for the medical personnel on the sideline to check them, and help to ensure that players aren’t pretending to be hurt just so they can step off the field for a play without costing their teams a timeout.