Mum's the Word on Maroney: NE Pats' Injury Policy Spreads to Bruins, Celtics

Ryan BurnsAnalyst IMay 21, 2009

FOXBORO, MA - AUGUST 22: Laurence Maroney #39 of the New England Patriots sits out the second half against the Philadelphia Eagles during preseason action at Gillette Stadium on August 22, 2008 in Foxboro, Massachusetts. (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

Last week at a charity softball game put on by fellow Patriots running back Kevin Faulk, Laurence Maroney came clean about his production, or lack thereof last season.

Seeing action in only three games, Maroney had his toughness questioned by fans and the media alike. 

He wasn't hitting holes fast enough, we said. He looks like he's avoiding contact, we said. However, there was a reason for all of this, a broken bone in his shoulder.

Maroney injured his shoulder in the Patriots week two victory over the New York Jets, but was placed on injured reserve on Oct. 20. In a recent Boston Globe article, Maroney shed some light on the injury and how it affected his season.

"I had a broken bone and I was trying to play with it," said Maroney. "It's kind of hard to sit here and play and not tell people what is going on. Everybody is going to think one way because they don't really know what's going on."

Clearly frustrated at the questions about his toughness, Maroney's shoulder injury was kept a secret early on in the season, something the Patriots have been known to do over the years.

The Patriots have been very secretive under the Belichick regime when it comes to injuries, trying not to reveal the nature or the severity of any given injury.

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Sprained ankle?  The Pats call that a lower body injury.

Bruised sternum?  You guessed it, an upper body injury.

This not only prevents opponents from identifying a particular part of the body to go after, but it also alters their preparation in practice when getting ready to play the Patriots. 

You want postgame comments from Belichick in regards to a certain players injury?  Good luck with that.  Belichick never wants to give an opponent the edge, which is why he keeps all injuries under very close watch, even if it leads to a players toughness being called into question.

While this policy may frustrate some fans as well as members of the media, it is clear that it can help a team operate more effectively, focusing on the game plan rather than injuries that you don't have any control over.

Recently, the Bruins and Celtics have both admitted that they had some banged up players down the stretch this season.

Doc Rivers told members of the media that, "Ray Allen had a hamstring problem throughout the Orlando series that was not getting better, Paul had some bone spurs that may need to be removed as well. Perk may have to have a procedure on his shoulder."

Of course, this information didn't come to light during their series with Orlando, as the Celtics took a page out of the Patriots' playbook.

Phil Kessel and David Krejci of the Bruins also admitted rather serious injuries after being eliminated by the Hurricanes. Kessel needs surgery to repair an injured shoulder, and Krejci needs hip surgery as well. Both were injured this season, and stuck it out through the playoffs.

It is clear that the Patriots have once again set a trend in the New England area when it comes to suppressing information about injuries. In the great sport of football, the less an opponent knows about an injury, the better. 

However, is it worth concealing an injury if it means that one of your players will get torn up by the media?

Maroney admitted that his shoulder injury was tough to deal with and told the media that his toughness shouldn't be questioned.

"Doing it the second game and still trying to play, I feel like it still shows my toughness and my dedication to the team and how much I really want to contribute. The shoulder is great. Not good, great."

In a sport as physically demanding as professional football, concealing an injury can protect a player on the field, up to the point where it starts affecting his play.  Players will be injured, coaches will be questioned, and answers will be vague.

As we head into the 2009 NFL season, if Tom Brady re-injures his knee, I wouldn't expect an injury update from Bill Belichick

After all, there's always that shoulder problem to deal with.

Do you guys think that hiding an injury is beneficial to a team or detrimental to a team?  Also how do you think that it can affect a players confidence?  Is concealing an injury worth a player being criticized?  What do you guys think?


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