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My Take: Hopkins Injury Reporting Reveals Lack of Transparency

Many NFL teams fail to adhere to the league media policy, which mandates that all medical information issued to the media is credible, responsible, and specific.

The range of information being circulated regarding the torn MCL suffered by Cardinals wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins is another glaring example of a team that, frankly, refuses to follow the injury reporting rules in the NFL media access policy.

The media, which is the conduit of information for fans, might as well use a dartboard to guess at the extent of injuries as well as estimates of how long a player will be sidelined.

After all, it wasn’t until after quarterback Kyler Murray returned to play against the Bears that head coach Kliff Kingsbury acknowledged his injury was a high-ankle sprain.

A myriad of speculation of whether he would play, especially in the first week or two, wouldn’t have occurred had it been known it was a high-ankle injury.

In this brave, new world of legal gambling, it becomes even more important for credible information to be disseminated. 

Of course, even prior to the recent wave of states making betting legal, the media access policy clearly stated (and still does): “Clubs must ensure that all medical information issued to the media is credible, responsible, and specific in terms that are meaningful to teams, media, and fans.”

Kingsbury sounded like a NHL coach Tuesday when he claimed Hopkins had a leg injury.

So it is on a Thursday when Kingsbury isn’t available to the media, that one report from Ian Rapoport of NFL Media said Hopkins would undergo surgery and miss the remainder of the regular season but could be available after six weeks if the Cardinals advance deep in the postseason.

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Another report had ESPN’s Josina Anderson notably tweeting: “Current internal expectation is for Hopkins to miss ‘2-4 months.’ As of now, pre-surgery, they're not expecting Hop back.” Anderson also reported surgery is scheduled for Friday.

Pay attention to the words “current internal expectation” with 2-4 months in quotes.

Throughout the league, there are obviously numerous times when club personnel provide members of the national media with information while refraining from telling media in the market where fans live and that cover the team in person on a daily basis.

The problem is when there are different voices reporting conflicting information. That’s when team personnel should simply be transparent and make clear announcements as accurately as possible.

On his website, www.sicscore.com, Dr. David Chao (@profootballdoc), wrote of Hopkins, “Initially, we were mostly concerned about him hitting the back of his head, but upon further video review we indeed noticed a knee MCL injury when he was landed on during the final minutes of the game. 

"The feeling was it would be mild, but news of surgery is significant. It is rare to need isolated MCL surgery, but it is also extremely optimistic to expect that at six weeks he would be ready to return fully. Typically, an isolated MCL surgery carries closer to a three-month timeline.

“This effectively ends his season although the Cardinals will presumably keep being optimistic to instill hope that their star WR will return. Expect him to be 100% healthy heading into training camp and the 2022 season.”

Finally, the media policy also now includes this relevant passage: “As a reminder, please note that because the injury reporting policy affects the integrity of the game, compliance is governed by the annual certifications required under the Integrity of the Game initiative. These certifications are required from chief executives, club presidents, general managers, and head coaches. Club management, in consultation with its medical staff, is responsible for the accuracy and appropriateness of medical information distributed in response to public interest.”

It’s time for teams to pay attention to the rules and for the league to enforce them.