After Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow suffered a season-ending torn thumb ligament during a Thursday night loss to the division-rival Ravens in Week 11, the NFL decided to conduct an investigation into whether or not Burrow should have been included on the injury report prior to the matchup. The result of the investigation was reported on today by Jonathan Jones of CBS Sports with Jones stating that the league found no wrongdoing as Cincinnati was “in full compliance with the league’s injury report policy.”
The investigation was deemed necessary after an intriguing series of events that saw the Bengals’ social media team delete a post that showed the team arriving in Baltimore. Closer inspection of video revealed that Burrow has an apparatus on his wrist, the same wrist that he would eventually injure against the Ravens. This led many to believe that the Bengals were perhaps covering up a potential injury from the NFL and their opponents, which would be against NFL regulations.
Officially, teams are required to disclose injuries in the spirit of fairness, so that an opposing club has the ability to strategize against the correct personnel. It’s also in the best interest of the players, as playing with injuries can lead to more severe consequences for the individual. In theory, if a team fails to report concussion symptoms from a practice injury, the NFL would be unable to hold that player from participation. Unofficially, now that gambling has become a prevalent source of income for the NFL, accurate injury reports become crucial for the appropriate setting of lines. Unknown injuries, especially at a position as critical as quarterback, could result in major line swings.
The Bengals immediately denied any wrongdoing, with team doctors claiming that Burrow’s injury was “acute and not one that happened over time.” Burrow would later claim that the apparatus was merely a compression sleeve used to help prevent swelling during flights and was unrelated to any injuries.
Regardless, Cincinnati turned over medical records and practice footage from the week prior to the game. After reviewing the materials and interviewing Burrow and relevant medical personnel, the league determined that the team had been in compliance with their reporting. Burrow successfully underwent wrist surgery at the end of November and is expected to return to play well before the start of the 2024 season.
While some have speculated that the league’s young ties to the betting world made this their only possible conclusion, the Bengals have avoided the potential punishment of a team fine, individual fines, or the loss of future draft picks. The team reportedly followed the necessary protocol on disclosing their injuries and should have Burrow back next year.