On Tuesday, Jerry Hughes posted a reassuring message to Buffalo Bills fans on social media indicating “We will be back 2020 season” and a thank you to fans. Along with that uplifting communication, Hughes shared that he had played injured. Per Hughes, “I wasn’t going to let these torn ligaments in my wrist slow me down as the team was so close to achieving our goal of an AFC East banner and playoff games.”
Jerry Hughes did not disclose when or how this injury occurred. And a quick trip down injury report memory lane only shows a groin injury that put Hughes as “questionable” for the Week 12 game in Miami. As a result sources are reporting that the NFL is investigating if the Buffalo Bills violated the league’s policy on injury reports.
The NFL Operations site has the policy from 2017 available for public review which states:
“If any player has a significant or noteworthy injury, it must be listed on the practice report, even if he fully participates in practice and the team expects that he will play in the team’s next game. This is especially important for key players whose injuries may be covered extensively by the media.”
The word “torn” paired with “ligaments” is likely to be interpreted as noteworthy when it comes to injuries, especially for a pass rusher who would be using their hands constantly. As one of Buffalo’s most widely known players, it’s similarly likely Hughes fits the last criteria as well.
Unless the organization was unaware of the injury, or the extent was unknown until after the Wild Card round loss, it’s likely that Buffalo is on the wrong side of this one. Prior violations of the policy have resulted in warnings and fines. The Detroit Lions were fined $75,000 this year for failure to comply with report guidelines regarding an injury to Matt Stafford. Steeper punishments such as loss of draft picks appear to be possible but not the norm.