The results of Eli Manning's MRI on Monday were worthy of a sigh of relief for the Giants and their fans. The quarterback has an injured plantar fascia, the ligament that supports the arch of the foot, and so long as he can stomach the pain he'll be fine to play according to doctors. Taking a week off wouldn't help matters much, because the team also confirmed that he's been suffering from plantar fasciitis, an irritation of the tissue at the bottom of the foot.
That was being kept secret by the Giants and we're curious to find out if the NFL office levies a $75,000 on the team and $25,000 fines for general manager Jerry Reese and coach Tom Coughlin. Those were the fines the Jets had to pay earlier this season when Brett Favre revealed that he had a torn biceps with the Jets during the 2008 season. Favre never appeared on the Jets' injury report, and, likewise, Manning has been missing from the Giants list this season.
Plantar fasciitis is the kind of nagging, chronic injury that dozens of NFL players deal with every week before playing in games without incident and it's totally understandable that the Giants felt no need to place Manning on the injury report since there was no chance that he was going to miss a game. Thing is, the Jets didn't list Favre on the injury report for exactly the same reason. His injury may have been more serious, it may have affected him more but it didn't keep him from playing in the game.
When fining the Jets, the NFL made a big deal about the integrity of the league's injury report. The idea is that the league wants to avoid a gambling scandal that could arise by people having inside information on a game. It's strange that a league that acts as if its popularity has nothing to do with gambling (or fantasy football) would be concerned by such matters, but there you go. Making all injury information transparent and keeping teams from hiding injuries that may affect them when they take the field levels things for everybody. It's a swell idea, but only if you actually enforce the rules.
Manning left Sunday's game because of the new, secondary injury that was caused by the first injury. Because the Giants were playing the latest cupcake in their bakery of a schedule, all it meant was that they wound up winning by 11 points instead of 25, but what if the aggravated injury came against the Eagles, Saints or another real team on the slate? It would undoubtedly impact the integrity of the game/gambling line that the Giants hid the truth about Manning's condition. Whatever the Jets and Favre did, his injury never actually forced him out of a game.
Just to be clear, the opinion here isn't that the Giants did anything wrong. The Jets didn't do anything wrong, either, and neither do the other 30 teams when they fail to disclose some ailment or another. Football's a rough game and everyone's got something that aches or throbs in a way that could impact them on the field. If they're going to play, they're going to play and it's nobody's business.
If the league is going to act like this is a cherished document that must be treated with respect, however, the Giants need to be fined. And, in response, they should list Eli Manning, Probable, Foot on every injury report until he retires to make a mockery of the notion that this is a question of integrity and not of helping fans spend their money on football-related pursuits as wisely as possible.
In fact, our greatest dream is that one week a football team lists all 53 players on their roster as questionable with the explanation that one of life's great uncertainties is that we never know what looms around the corner and can never be certain that our next breath won't be our last breath.