Posted September 04, 2013

Brian Urlacher: Bears had ‘designated dive guy’ to thwart high-tempo offenses

Baltimore Ravens, Chicago Bears
Brian Urlacher isn't the first player to acknowledge fake injuries could help a defense.

Brian Urlacher isn’t the first player to acknowledge that faking injuries can help a defense. (Nam Y. Huh/AP)

There is a long history in the NFL of defensive players faking injuries to slow down high-tempo, no-huddle offenses — from the Seahawks directing defensive tackle Joe Nash to repeatedly flop in a 1989 playoff game against the Bengals, to the Giants allegedly feigning injuries against the Rams in September 2011. It is no surprise to those in the know, in other words, that not all defensive injuries are on the level.

Former Bears linebacker Brian Urlacher, who retired in May after a Hall of Fame career and is now an analyst for FOX Sports, said on Wednesday that the Bears’ defense he used to lead was familiar with such tactics.

Urlacher said that, while the practice wasn’t coached, players on the field would know to use it when they saw one of the Chicago coaches mimicking a diving motion on the sideline. There was a “designated dive guy,” Urlacher said, adding that the tactic was most beneficial early in the season, as well as on long drives when defensive players are fatigued.

It’s a subject that the league’s Competition Committee has discussed on several occasions, and after the infamous New York-St. Louis game in 2011, the league sent out a “zero-tolerance memo” to address it.

Going forward, be advised that should the league office determine that there is reasonable cause, all those suspected of being involved in faking injuries will be summoned promptly to this office … to discuss the matter. Those found to be violators will be subject to appropriate disciplinary action for conduct detrimental to the game.

We have been fortunate that teams and players have consistently complied with the spirit of the rule over the years and this has not been an issue for the NFL. We are determined to take all necessary steps to ensure that it does not become an issue.

The NFL has never disciplined a team based on that memo, and given all the injury litigation currently swirling around the game, the league may not have the stomach to question a player’s injury anyway.

Mostly, the flops are discussed and executed with a nod and a wink. The Rams played the Ravens the week after the Giants game, and Baltimore defensive end Terrell Suggs talked quite openly about the possibilities.

“That’s a great tactic,” Suggs said back then. “I may do it. I may do it, because you’ve got to stop the game if you’re hurt. If it works, it works … Don’t be surprised, you’ll see old 55 [Suggs' number] get a nice little hammy.”

But Baltimore defensive coordinator Chuck Pagano (now the Colts head coach) was appalled by New York’s lack of subtlety.

“[It] wasn’t choreographed very well, if you watch the tape,” he said. “I’ve heard of guys doing things like that. We would never do anything like that here. You know, you watch it, and it’s right there and you see it, and it is what it is. Obviously, reading the letter that we got from the Commissioner and their stance on it, how they’re going to penalize teams if they catch them doing it, it’s just not something that we would do or ask our guys to do. You’ve got to play. If they go no-huddle, we have to respond.”

That response may include, as Urlacher stated, some tactics that might be considered underhanded — whether the NFL likes it or not.

44 comments
Tatonka_Smith
Tatonka_Smith

I coached a high school JV team that was outmanned and outgunned every game.  There were games when we didn't have enough players to sub out every position.  If we ran into a team that used their overwhelming numbers to try and no huddle us into the ground, I would have a kid get a leg cramp.

gdett
gdett

Ah, yes. Sports teach honesty, integrity, etc, etc

WHO*IS*ESPN
WHO*IS*ESPN

Isn't it amazing recently retired players like him and ray have to begin their stories so soon?  Guess they can't stay out of the limelight 

Fannish
Fannish

Turn this over to the US Congress. They will really muck it up. At least it will keep them occupied and prevent more stupidity for a day or twoo.

MARK7
MARK7

The problem is easily remedied. If a starter goes down, the Ref blows the whistle and the player has 30 seconds to get off the field. If the player cannot, they are lost for a quarter. If the person hurt is a back up or 3rd string, and they cannot get off the field in 30 seconds, they are gone for a half. That way if you are really hurt, it would be a good thing to take a quarter off for the benefit of the player. That would stop the flopping that is going on more and more.. the NFL is like watching a soccer match now, bunch of guys rolling around on the ground every other play

espnrefugee0218
espnrefugee0218

Every team does it and with the new offenses that are going to be snapping the ball every 12 seconds you can bet it will get worse.  Simple solution, a player that goes down has to sit out the remainder of that series and the next one.  Chalk it up to player safety.  

DEJ1948
DEJ1948

I'm shocked, shocked I say to find that diving is going on in this establishment.  What's next from Mr. Urlacher?  News about the sun rising in the East? 

gbgentleman
gbgentleman

This is what's wrong with America...all Honor is gone.  Sports used to be about fair play and honest effort, now it's about win at all cost...even down to the high school and below levels.  Heck basketball, fouling an opponent is part of the game...one of the reasons I hate that particular sport.


BosephHeyden
BosephHeyden

Bears fan here.  While I don't doubt the Bears had (and probably still have)  a fall guy, I'm not sure why this is a story other than the fact a bitter ex-employee is the one leaking it.  Mainly because I can't remember the last time a Bears player on defense had to be helped off the field other than Julius Peppers (and the two or three times he has come off the field, he didn't come back on for at least a quarter).  I know Cutler and Forte have been grounded for obvious line reasons, but even on offense, the last player I remember seeing down on the field was Johnny Knox, and that was due to a broken back.

donald5
donald5

"to the Giants allegedly feigning injuries against the Rams in September 2011"

Please... there is not "alleged" about that.  I saw it live ant it was like there were 2 snipers in the stands that took out 2 Giants at the exact same moment.  It was comically bad.

donald5
donald5

Where was the integrity to confess your cheating while you were on the Bears?  Now that your confession has ZERO impact on you, you decide to be honest about it.  How stupid do you think people are?  This is just some petty shot at the Bears.

evil.aaronm
evil.aaronm

Not surprising or new.  Guys do it in wrestling, as well.  First, it was, "Timeout!  My shoe's untied."  Then, they made a rule to tape the laces or get busted a point.  Then, more guys than ever suddenly needed an inhaler and you'd see them signal that they needed to use it.  You'd see medical stoppage while the kid just sat on his butt, holding an inhaler.  Of course, the refs can't really call BS because some kids actually do need it.  Where there's a way to cheat, lesser athletes, or teams, will use it.

EugeneSaxe
EugeneSaxe

Way to state that which we already know AND lose any good feeling the organization might have had towards you.

Cool
Cool

I think the article made a good point when it talked about litigation.  Just wait for the play in which a ref throws a flag and penalizes a player for an actual injury, thinking it was faked, and all sorts of cow manure will hit the fan. 

riley8
riley8

When does the book come out Urlacher?

m.guszak
m.guszak

I think he is telling us what we already knew, but, you kind of don't like former players spilling the beans on stuff like that.

Mr. J
Mr. J

Really?...Now that you have retired you want to try to throw the team under the bus!!!..We all know it happens but it is NO need for Urlacher to open his mouth.....If you were not man enough to say it while you were playing ...Shut Up!!

yummypeaches
yummypeaches

If it feels like a fake injury just don't blow the whistle .

muser
muser

Brian...don't be THAT guy...

MaryStricker
MaryStricker

If you are hurt to the point where you need on-field assistance then make a rule you must sit out the entire drive - for your own protection of course. That would slow down the practice at least.

Tatonka_Smith
Tatonka_Smith

@gdett sports teach about life.  In life, there are times when little white lies help.  I suppose you have never been dishonest to any degree...

Voiceover310
Voiceover310

@WHO*IS*ESPN What's amazing is you post the same mindless garbage on every single story that SI puts up on the site. There is life after your trolling career ended on the espn message boards. You just have to go find one. Good luck to you!! ONWARD & UPWARD!!

Tatonka_Smith
Tatonka_Smith

@MARK7 So, a leg cramp at the beginning of the 4th quarter would take your all-pro out for the rest of the game.

DanSullivan1
DanSullivan1

@MARK7 Simply remove the player until the ball changes hands makes the flopping less successful, the backup has to come into no huddle without a chance to warm up. Review the tape and the doctor, no injury means a number of games suspension and a owner fine. Once the owner is forced to feel the sting of his players action, make the fine substantial up to a draft choice, then perhaps it will change. The boss never likes to be linked to his minions evil actions.

donald5
donald5

@MARK7 Will NEVER happen.  There are all sorts of sports injuries that take more than 30 seconds to gather yourself from that shouldn't incapacitate you for an entire quarter.  To penalize a player an entire 15 minutes because he can't man up and get off the field quickly is completely moronic.  It also flies completely in the face of the push for player safety.  You will have people with injuries try to get up under the 30 second mark so they don't get benched and possibly causing the injury to be worse because they got up too quickly.  You will have players try to brush of concussion tests because if they stay down they know they will lose a quarter automatically.  Cramps are injuries that take more than 30 seconds to get up from.  Are you are seriously going to bench a guy for an entire quarter because of some stupid cramps that will be better by the next commercial break?  Good luck with that.

DanSullivan1
DanSullivan1

@espnrefugee0218 Health and Saftey, super choice just like England where the H&S agency dictates life to every living soul in England.

help4mac1
help4mac1

@espnrefugee0218 With every new rule apart from the new RB penalty favoring the offense, your idea has no chance.

WHO*IS*ESPN
WHO*IS*ESPN

@gbgentleman the new generation of ghetto ball, "all about self" is the norm.  Blacks want the money and are entitled now. I use blacks because whites aren't in basketball but blacks don't care.  But blacks aren't in baseball much and they have to complain and want "equality" for baseball. Sad race

jeremyvillano
jeremyvillano

@gbgentleman I too long for the good ol' days myself, when you could just bribe a baseball team to throw the World Series instead of all this faking injuries... Be a man and just take the bribe!

rckstrscott
rckstrscott

@BosephHeyden Leaking a story everyone who has ever watched the NFL knows?? It isn't a bitter ex-employee, it is a guy who who is being paid for his opinion try to say something to make his opinion more valuable. I don't think he is bitter, he is just trying to be relevant in his new job. I don't think this is a story and I think his revelation is old news. 

Cool
Cool

@EugeneSaxe Like knowing your best friend is cheating on his wife, and yet when you are all together, you brag about how happy they look?  Saying anything else would make you look silly?  

Shooter McGavin 19711
Shooter McGavin 19711

@Mr. J If he saiid it while he was employed by the Bears, he would have been fined and/or disciplined.  And given his treatment at the end by the Bears, you can't expect players to be loyal when NFL teams aren't loyal.  So other than your entire rant, you are 100 percent correct.  Kudos.

swidt
swidt

With a little tweaking, this could work.

EugeneSaxe
EugeneSaxe

@MaryStricker Nah, they just make the most-expendable guy take the dive.  You'd never see the star take it.

drmuon
drmuon

@donald5 @MARK7Ok a minute then..  Faking injuries should be like flopping in basketball.  Someone should be penalized for it.  

BosephHeyden
BosephHeyden

@Shooter McGavin 19711 Not sure where the Bears mistreated him.  He was an older linebacker that was coming off another season where he didn't make it through the season healthy.  They offered him more than any other NFL team was willing to offer him, hence his going around shopping himself to other teams and only getting one offer for less than the 1 year, $2 million or so the Bears offered.  He was a bitter guy way before his contract was up, making comments that the fans owed him more, and when his perceived value didn't match up to his real value, he went on to become a bitter analyst for a station that we'll likely all forget in two years' time.

This is the kind of stuff that only delays a team retiring your number.

MaryStricker
MaryStricker

@EugeneSaxe @MaryStricker But he would have to be on the field for play at least for that to work...and he would get exploited. And you could say if more than two on-field calls in one game you sit the rest of the day out.

swidt
swidt

There aren't that many expendable guys on the field during drives that matter.  Unless a team subs in a guy just to take the dive (which would be big red flag for the league), then there would usually be a less capable guy taking the field in place of the guy who took the dive.  That alone would probably be a big enough deterrent.

MattPoulsen
MattPoulsen

@donald5 @drmuon @MARK7 these aren't charging flops. How, short of having a Dr.'s evaluation done on the spot, are you going to determine whether some is in pain. You can't apply physics to do it. It is subjective.

donald5
donald5

@drmuon @donald5 @MARK7 If you can prove it, then penalize them.  The NBA can prove flops by simply applying a elementary knowledge of physics to a replay.  If your head bounces back without any contact....that's a flop.  If you fly of the court flailing your arms when someone's pinky hits your arm, that is a flop.  If you can figure a way to tell when NFL players are flopping that doesn't primarily rely of mere speculation, go ahead with it.  The problem is it will take a mind reading device.  Pretty sure they don't exist.  

jeremyvillano
jeremyvillano

@swidt Agreed.  And how many times can that "expendable" guy take the fall?  Once, maybe twice in a season?  You're going to run out of expendable guys pretty darn quick.

I like the idea.  Even if the idea can't be fixed, no reason not to deter it and make it happen less frequently...