Mike Mularkey is in the opening days of camp with a new team that’s training without Maurice Jones-Drew, the league’s leading rusher, and Justin Blackmon, Jacksonville’s first-round pick. So like a parent who sees a swear jar as the holy root of all sacred discipline, he’s instituting his own unique brand of secret service level gag order.
If you’re employed by the Jaguars to play football and you talk openly about an injury, you’ll be fined $10,000. Even if you’re talking to your mom, the caring figure who’s nurturing hand has healed your wounds.
Mularkey shared part of his opening comments to his players with the media, and although he may have been joking about the mom part, the rest was serious. If Jags players speak to anyone about their broken bones, he’ll break their bones, or something.
From Tania Ganguli:
“They saw a lot of numbers last night,” Mularkey told me after his group media availability ended. “One of them, it was up there more than once, was about speaking about injuries. [Head trainer] Mike Ryan talked about it, I had it up there more than once. Coordinators were told prior to that meeting every two weeks, two to three weeks I want you to stand in front of that room and tell them we’re not going to talk about injuries. Even if mom says, ‘How are you feeling?’ If you tell you mom, go call coach Mularkey. I’m going overboard.”
Mularkey chuckled at that last part, so he wasn’t totally serious. But he is serious about keeping the flow of that information limited.
“Anything I know about a guy, anything I know is hurting on him, any comment he makes will play into how they attack a team or a position,” Mularkey said. “I just don’t think it’s anybody else’s business. … If I feel like it’s going to jeopardize us or compromise us, I will not talk about specific injuries. Right now we’re really not in a position where I don’t feel free to talk about them because I feel pretty good about our team right now. But I will be the only voice.”
Points for creativity and installing a police state, Mike. But is your new dictatorship legal under the laws of Roger Goodell’s dictatorship and the regulations in the CBA? Maybe, but we don’t really know.
PFT’s Darin Gantt went through the insomnia-curing labor agreement. So far, there isn’t any language specifically stating that a fine this large and for this type of “offense” is permissible, but that means very little. Perhaps–and I’m reaching here–when the lockout was finally coming to its conclusion about a year ago, the NFL and NFLPA had far more important matters to worry about than whether or not a head coach would fine his players the equivalent of roughly two Dodge Ram vans for what’s usually routine injury locker room banter.
Until further notice, the league is “looking into it.”
Teams are required to file injury reports after each of their three weekly practices, but as Bill Belichick has done for years, those can easily be manipulated. They tell the public–or more specifically, the betting public (but shhh!)–that a player is indeed injured, and they give a rough estimate of his chances of appearing in that week’s game (probable, questionable, etc.). And while that information is vague, it still gives the opposition all they need to know, rendering Mularkey’s gag order useless.
A team merely needs to know that an injury exists, and then that injury can be targeted. That’s it, that’s all. So while curtailing discussion of injuries may reduce public knowledge of their severity, it’ll do nothing for Mularkey’s ultimate goal of limiting the opposition’s advantage.