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Andy Juniper Headshot

We Know Why Women Fake It, But Why Does the NFL?

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If you believe the surveys in women's magazines, women fake it -- in fact, they fake it more often than any man would ever care to imagine. If you believe Seinfeld's Cosmos Kramer, some men fake it, too ("Sure, if it's enough already and I just want to get some sleep..."). Neurotic Bob Wiley, as luminously brought to life by Bill Murray in the movie What About Bob?, once reasoned that "if I fake it, then I don't have it." The 'it' in this instance being any given ailment, illness, disease, disorder...

Ladies, Gentlemen, Bob Wiley: faking it is part of our culture. Hell, soccer players around the globe have been faking it for years -- that is, feigning most-grievous injury where, in fact, not even a light stroke of contact occurred. And in recent years, even the big boys of basketball have taken to faking contact, flopping about on the court like a fish on a dry dock with Oscar-worthy performances (see Chris Bosh, on any given night), just to convince officials to call a foul against an altogether innocent opponent. The National Basketball Association, sensing the league was becoming a punchline, began fining players for 'flopping.'

Alas, we may have become slightly immune to all this fab faking. Indeed, we've possibly come to expect it. In the bedroom. In the psychiatrist office. On the soccer pitch. And even on the courts of the NBA. But did we ever think it would come to this?

Last weekend, the National Football League opened its 94th campaign and, in the wake of Week One, about all fans and insiders can talk about is all the apparent tomfoolery and tom-fakery on the field.

Take Jerry Jones (please!). The vocal owner of the Dallas Cowboys was quick to accuse the New York Giants of odious and innumerable injury exaggerations in their Sunday night matchup. And why would these brawny behemoths ever show vulnerability by (gasp) faking an injury?

The Cowboys, you see, were attempting to employ an up-tempo, no-huddle offense in the second quarter of their eventual win over the Giants. This type of offense is oftentimes used to rattle and tucker-out a defense. And, in Jones' eyes, the Giants were intent on torpedoing the up-tempo by going down. In post-game interviews, Jones was of two minds:

"It was so obvious (they were faking) it was funny," he said. But added: "It wasn't humorous because we really wanted the advantage (afforded by the up-tempo), and we knew we could get it if we could get the ball snapped." But they couldn't get the ball snapped, what with officials whistling wildly for injury timeouts and Giants medical personal swarming the field.

This is not the first time the Giants have been accused of such shenanigans. And, of course, it won't be the last; two years ago one of their own -- former linebacker Brian Kehl -- said the coaches in New York instructed players to hit the turf for a brief breather if things were getting too hairy on the field. And, of course, the Giants aren't alone. Fox Sports 1 analyst Brian Urlacher -- freshly retired after a stellar career with the Bears -- said his team used to have a 'designated dive guy', who would fall down hurt on command. Ughhh.

On Monday night, the Washington Redskins squared off against coach Chip Kelly's pedal-to-the-metal Philadelphia Eagle offense. Were Redskin players genuinely getting hurt in the frantic action, or were they faking cramps and the like just to get their breath back? Let's just say that half of the Washington defense appeared to have been nominated to be the night's 'designated dive guy(s).' And let's just say that at times it siphoned the credibility -- not to mention the tempo and the fun -- right on out of the game.

Of course, it's a problem sans solution. With 300-pound agile athletes colliding at breakneck speed on every play, who can possibly say for certain whether a player writhing on the turf is actually injured? Or bucking for an Oscar?

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