Atlanta Falcons running back Bijan Robinson only received one carry and a few snaps in Sunday’s Week 7 win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers due to headaches. Now, the National Football League is reportedly poised to look into the matter.
When Atlanta released its final injury report and inactive list before Sunday’s game, Robinson wasn’t on it. Nothing seemed amiss, with everyone expecting the emerging NFL star to be heavily featured in a critical division game against the Buccaneers.
- Bijan Robinson stats: 404 rushing yards, 5 yards per carry, 26 receptions, 189 receiving yards
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However, Robinson remained on the sideline when his teammates took the field. On an eight-play touchdown drive, Atlanta didn’t give its prized rookie a single snap and he essentially remained on the sideline for the entire first quarter. After not receiving a single touch in the first half, Falcons’ head coach Arthur Smith revealed at halftime that Robinson wasn’t “feeling right” and the team was playing it safe.
While the former Texas Longhorns star eventually logged one carry, he didn’t even see double-digit snaps across 64 plays by the Falcons’ offense. Smith revealed after the game that Robinson reported experiencing headaches to the team on Saturday night and the issue worsened on Sunday.
Now, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, the NFL is in contact with the Falcons and investigating potential injury-report compliance violations on Sunday. While this is standard protocol for the NFL when a player who isn’t listed on the injury report then doesn’t play or barely sees the field, there’s a greater motivation behind it.
Why the NFL could discipline the Atlanta Falcons
From the Atlanta Falcons’ perspective, not disclosing Robinson’s medical issue before Sunday provided them with a perceived medical advantage. Tampa Bay didn’t know the standout running back would effectively be used as a decoy on the field or a fan on the sidelined as opposed to playing his usual role.
NFL rules require teams to disclose all injuries and illnesses that might impact a player’s availability or effectiveness on the field. It’s become even more important to the league thanks to the booming popularity of fantasy football and the legalization of sports gambling.
Partnerships with sports books and gambling itself are worth billions of dollars to the NFL. It’s become a new source of revenue for the league, boosting the salary cap and putting the NFL in a position where it expects to make $20-plus billion in annual revenue by 2028.
When teams like the Falcons fail to disclose injuries, it can cost fans and even sportsbooks millions of dollars collectively and the undisclosed injury hurts the NFL’s integrity. If the inquiry determines the Falcons violated the injury-report compliance policy, the Falcons will likely be fined within the next week.