On Monday, it was reported by Mark Maske of The Washington Post that the NFL filed a grievance against the NFLPA, accusing the player’s association of encouraging “running backs to fake injuries as a contract-negotiating tactic with their teams.” Maske explained that the grievance will be resolved by an arbitrator, as the NFL argues that the NFLPA violated the CBA by offering this advice to running backs.
The NFLPA has already denied this accusation, saying, “Their grievance is ridiculous and without merit.” However, the league believes NFLPA president JC Tretter has “become increasingly vocal in advising NFL Players dissatisfied with their current contracts to consider feigning or exaggerating injuries to withhold service as a way to increase their leverage in contract negotiations.” The grievance even mentions the zoom call between the league’s top running backs who were frustrated with the market.
While the league hasn’t accused any running backs of actually taking this advice and faking an injury as a negotiating tactic, all eyes immediately went to Jonathan Taylor and the Indianapolis Colts once this grievance was made public.
Could NFL grievance against NFLPA have anything to do with Jonathan Taylor and Colts?
Taylor, one of the best running backs in the league, has been in a very public contract dispute with Indianapolis. He also had what was considered a minor ankle surgery back in January— a surgery with a recovery time of two to four weeks. However, Taylor was surprisingly placed on the PUP list once the team returned for training camp in late July, and he remains on the PUP list, as he isn’t eligible to be activated until Week 5.
When Colts general manager Chris Ballard was asked about Taylor’s unusually long recovery, Ballard supported Taylor, saying that everyone heals differently, and that Indianapolis isn’t going to force a player thats still feeling pain to play. When first-year head coach Shane Steichen was asked if the league or NFLPA had asked about the legitimacy of Taylor’s injury, Steichen responded, “No, all of those things that happen with that stuff, I'll keep that internal.”
Once Week 1 kicked off, it was reported that Taylor was healthy and ready to pass a physical. Since, he has even posted footage of him training in the Colts’ facility, preparing for a return. While only Taylor will ever truly know the truth, the NFL seems to believe that running backs were advised to fake injuries. In the coming weeks, we’ll see what happens with this grievance, just as will see what Jonathan Taylor’s future is with the Colts.