Former Lions tight end Joseph Fauria, who in 2014 had the strangest excuse for a non-sports injury (non-baseball division) when he said he sprained his ankle while trying to stop his Pomsky from peeing in the house, has finally come clean. Lil’ Rufio was framed!
On the latest episode of his podcast Figure It Out—the relevant part starts at around the 20-minute mark—Fauria told the story of how he actually injured himself. It wasn’t nearly as dramatic or bizarre as falling while trying to prevent a tiny dog from piddling on the floor. He was hurt while he played a game of indoor volleyball with his friends on an off-day. A partial transcript:
We get to the game. I watch their first game, and my competitive spirit rises. Duh. Because I’m frickin’ competitive, and I want everyone to see me spike the ball. So what do I do? I jump in the game. But I tell myself, “Joe, you’re not gonna jump. You’re not gonna spike. You’re gonna stay in the back and just help them out, show them your awesome passing skills with your super-large hands that are great at passing.” [...] And, uh, I didn’t hit the ball at all. Stayed on my feet, because I was wearing Jordan 11 Lows. Anyone that doesn’t know that, they’re below my ankle, and I already have a history of bad ankles, having twisted my ankles my entire life, but I showed up to a volleyball game to watch—to play, in Jordan 11 Lows. Anyway, I don’t hit any balls except for, like, one towards the end, barely, and I barely hit it and get a spike against these frickin’ awesome people.
So, second game goes by. I’m not sweating, it was fun, but I get the bug. The “I want to show everybody what I can do” bug, because everyone’s just staring at me and I love when people stare at me. And I’m so tall and hitting the ball hard and I’m so good at sports, I want people to look at me. So I’m like, “Hey, someone set me. Someone set me. Just real quick. I’m not gonna do anything crazy. Just someone set me.” First one: I jump up in my Jordan Lows, approach the net, SMACK. Hit that shit out of the ball. ... They liked it. And I was like, “I’mma do this shit again. I’m gonna hit another ball.” So I take another approach, get the set, jump up, [smacking sound] ... And I hit the ball, 10-foot line, fuck yeah, everyone’s cheering. But when I come down, I come down on just ankle. Left ankle. Like, this most amazing, shocking pain that I’ve never felt in my entire life shoots up my leg, and immediately, I’m like, “Career’s over.” First thing I thought. “Season’s over. Career’s over.” That’s how much it hurt.
Fauria said he left the gym as quickly as he could, consulted friend and Lions punter Sam Martin on what to do, went to the doctors, and told them “I was chasing my dog.”
Worried that he could lose earnings from his contract, the tight end maintained his story when he had to explain the injury to the Lions:
Head coach walks in, Jim Caldwell. He asks me what happened. I lied. Why did I lie? Was it because I started the lie at the hospital? That I want to lie to my head coach? No, but I was thinking about myself. In my mind, I had to think about myself at that point. Because, I was told by—I don’t know who told me at the time, someone whose opinion or word I valued a lot. Call it an agent, call it a friend, call it whatever you want. They told me that if the team, the organization, the Lions found out I was playing volleyball and I got hurt playing volleyball, that they could exercise the option of not paying me. Okay. It’s Week 3. You get paid in increments. You get paid each week. They stop paying me now, that’s not good. I want that money. So, that’s why I lied.
That led to this literally incredible tweet:
As for Lil’ Rufio, he’s still around and cute as hell. Hopefully he doesn’t hold a grudge against his owner.