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NFL fines Falcons, head coach Smith for violating injury report policy

Publish Date: 12/23/2023
Fact checked by: Mike Goodpaster

The NFL has fined the Atlanta Falcons and head coach Arthur Smith for violating the league’s injury report policy before their Week 7 matchup with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

NFL Network Insiders Ian Rapoport and Tom Pelissero reported on Friday that the team received a $75,000 fine. Meanwhile, Smith faced a $25,000 penalty, according to sources familiar with the matter.

The fines result from the Week 7 handling of first-round rookie running back Bijan Robinson. In the match against Tampa Bay, Robinson participated in 13 snaps and managed just one carry for 3 yards.

His absence from the Falcons’ pre-game injury report raised questions about his limited involvement. In a halftime interview, Smith explained that Robinson was unwell on the Saturday before the match. However, he dismissed concerns, and the team failed to include the running back on the injury report.

Robinson revealed that a headache, which began Saturday night, intensified into Sunday. He disclosed that he was “feeling weird” and “woke up just completely out of it” before the game.

“I tried to take medicine so I could be good for the game,” Robinson said. “But my head was hurting. Bad. I don’t know what was going on. I tried to go in pre-game, but then coach Smith said, ‘We’ll be all right. Let’s get you right.’”

Lesson learned

The Falcons issued a public statement via the team’s official website on Friday, where Smith praised the league and acknowledged that there are various considerations when reviewing the injury report. The head coach also highlighted an understanding of both perspectives and how the process “wasn’t some contentious battle.”

“I understood their point of view, so lesson learned there,” Smith added. “It was a good conversation, and there are probably a lot of conversations that are going to be had in the spring. That’s kind of where we ended it.”

A similar occurrence happened in 2019 when the Pittsburgh Steelers and Mike Tomlin were fined for providing an inaccurate report on quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. Earlier this season, the Cincinnati Bengals also underwent a similar investigation about quarterback Joe Burrow’s injury status but were subsequently cleared.

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