Deon Grant. Lightning bolt not pictured
In the prideful world of the NFL, publicly complaining about your opponents just isn't done. Referees and officials are fair game. The league itself is fair game. But opponents? No. You play the game, you play hard and you take your bumps and bruises home ready for the next week.
It is no wonder, then, that a few cages have been rattled by the accusation that the New York Giants' defensive unit feigned injuries during their game against the St Louis Rams last Sunday. In the NFL, you have to be very sure of your facts before you accuse someone of cheating.
To be fair, the Giants didn't really help their own cause. Big tough safeties like Deon Grant don't go down like that unless they've been felled by lightning or hit by a truck. Something odd was clearly going on.
The question is, though, why is it all suddenly a big deal?
Sports aren't just about playing by the rules. It is about how well you can get away with breaking the rules. It always has been and it always will be.
This might be a harsh truth to some of you, but ask any lineman if he would rather miss his block or hold his opponent? You know the answer already. And any cornerback who tells you that he has never interfered with a receiver attempting to catch a pass is a liar.
The NFL is no different to any other league in this respect, and football no different to any other game.
Feigning injury is common in sports the world over. In soccer, it is so prevalent that it is scarcely worth mentioning any more. In rugby, it is common to pretend to tie a bootlace or need a minor injury treating in order to slow the game down (though few teams go as far as this).
You can tell by the mild reaction of the NFL to the whole story—essentially one of "if we catch you, you'll be fined"—that they know it goes on and that they are powerless to stop it.
I don't believe that there is a side in the league who wouldn't have done this, including the Rams themselves. Few will do it as badly as the Giants did, though.