KRAVITZ: Colts find themselves in a fine mess over Luck’s injury situation

Coach Pagano and QB Andrew Luck
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Let’s establish one thing first: There will be no "gate" affixed to the growing mess the Indianapolis Colts find themselves in. Injurygate. Ribsgate. No gate. There will be no gate.

That, however, doesn’t mean this isn’t serious, or that the Colts don’t have some explaining to do after Fox's Jay Glazer, who I can never recall having been wrong, reported A) that Andrew Luck is playing with fractured ribs and B) the Colts never put Luck’s rib injury on the injury report, as is required by the National Football League.

Reports: Andrew Luck playing with multiple fractured ribs

If Glazer is correct, it’s not without precedent that a quarterback would play with fractured ribs. Tony Romo comes to mind. Cam Newton, too. As a layman, I would wonder why they would put Luck and his reportedly injured ribs in harm’s way, especially when he’s the long-term savior of the franchise, but the medical staff wouldn’t clear him to play if they believed he was in any great peril. (Or so I’d hope to believe).

The real issue here is the fact the Colts never listed Luck’s ribs on the injury report. Not ever. The shoulder, yes, that’s been listed on the injury report. But not the ribs. And the NFL demands complete transparency about injuries, largely for fear that withholding such information could give gamblers access to inside information that would give them an edge. Mind you, teams have often played fast and loose with the injury report – Bill Parcells didn’t take them all that seriously, and Bill Belichick had Tom Brady listed as probable for what seemed like every game – but the rule is expected to be followed, much like maintaining the proper inflation of a football. Colts fans can argue this is a minor offense, if it’s revealed to be an offense at all, but then they’ll sound like Patriots fans, railing against the unfairness of the rules that govern ball inflation.

Let’s just say, the Colts haven’t been completely forthcoming about injuries to their star quarterback; specifically, their star quarterback hasn’t been completely forthcoming. The Monday after the victory at Tennessee, I specifically asked Luck if he suffered an injury in the Titans game. I thought he had bruised ribs. That was my armchair diagnosis. "No," he said. "Just the usual bumps and bruises." Later, the Colts listed him on the injury reported with a hurt shoulder. When Luck met the media again later in the week, he sought me out (I wasn’t there that day) and said he needed to apologize for me for lying about the injury.

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So, is Luck and are the Colts lying about the ribs injury? ESPN reported that both Luck and Chuck Pagano declined comment on the Glazer story, adding there were currently no physical restrictions on Luck.

After the Colts Monday night loss to the Carolina Panthers, Luck was asked if he suffered any broken ribs this season.

He quickly answered, “I’m not going to get into that right now.’’

The NFL is investigating. No Wells Report, not yet, but the NFL is taking this seriously. And it should.

Here’s how part of the rule reads:

"All players with significant or noteworthy injuries must be listed on the report, even if the player takes all the reps in practice, and even if the team is certain that he will play in the upcoming game," the policy reads. "This is especially true of key players and those players whose injuries have been covered extensively by the media. This policy is of paramount importance in maintaining the integrity of the game."

In other words, if Luck’s ribs were injured – fractured, bruised, whatever – they should have been on the injury report.

They were not.

"The intent of the policy is to provide and full and complete rendering of player availability," the policy reads. "Should disputes arise with regards to compliance with this policy, it will be incumbent upon clubs to demonstrate that they have acted in a manner consistent with the intent of the policy."

After the Glazer report aired, I immediately texted Ryan Grigson and Jim Irsay. The latter did not respond. Grigson communicated off the record and a few moments later, the Colts, who HAD to respond, issued this statement:

"Our injury reports are accurate," Grigson said in the statement. "If people have any questions about player injuries, they should refer to our injury reports."

There’s some serious parsing of words there. Notice, the Colts did not come right out and say that Glazer’s report relating to Luck’s ribs was wrong. There was no denial. The gist of the statement was, "We didn’t play fast and loose with the injury report." It was a very clumsy non-denial/denial, and only raised more questions than it answered.

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All along, the Indy media has been told, time and again, that it's solely the shoulder, and even Sunday, my sources were insisting it was the shoulder and not the ribs as well. But there were multiple reports Sunday – from Glazer, from NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport and possibly some others that I didn’t see – reporting that his ribs were injured as well.

It was interesting that the brother of backup quarterback Matt Hasselbeck, ESPN’s Tim Hasselbeck, went on a Boston-area radio show Monday and said he does not believe Luck has fractured ribs, but bruised ribs.

Which continues to beg the question: Why wasn’t it on the injury list?

This might not rise to the level of a Deflategate or any one of the other "gates," but, if true, it’s a serious offense. It’s especially serious if it involves Grigson, who blew the whistle on the Patriots’ use of deflated footballs in the AFC Championship Game.

In this league, and in this life, if you’re going to call out others for wrongdoing, you’d darned well better be sure to keep your own nose clean. If the Colts are popped for this, it will put Grigson in an even more tenuous position than he already is regarding his continued employment with the Colts. I could easily make the case that it’s a fire-able offense, especially if it results in a loss of draft choices.

According to the policy, injury-list violations can result in team fines, fines or suspensions of the people directly involved and the possible loss of draft choices.

Stay tuned. This is going to get more interesting. And potentially, much messier.

See more Kravitz columns here.