Back in Week 7, Emmanuel Sanders had a fortuitously timed cramp. His "injury" saved the Steelers from having to use a timeout or take a delay-of-game penalty. It was fake, and we all knew it was fake, and Sanders knew we knew, but it's not like the league could do anything about it.
"Despite the account given by Sanders during our November 2nd meeting," writes NFL VP of Football Operations Ray Anderson in announcing a $35,000 fine for Sanders and a $15,000 fine for the Steelers, "neither the video sequence of the pertinent plays nor the observations of the on-field official support Sanders's contention that he was in severe pain, either before, while falling to the ground, lying on the ground, or when he was being assisted in leaving the field."
Anderson twists the knife further:
"After missing the one play that is mandatory pursuant to the playing rules, and receiving no apparent treatment, Sanders returned to the game for a fourth down punt, on which he out sprinted all of his teammates 26 yards down the field, arriving at the ball ahead of all other Pittsburgh players, and then downing the ball. The video of the play shows Sanders running swiftly and effortlessly toward the punted ball, and then leaving the field with no sign of discomfort."
After publicly warning the league after the Giants pulled the same bit last year, and another memo in September, we figured that the league's only weapon was empty threats. You can't prove Sanders didn't suffer a cramp, then immediately get better. But the NFL did something I had no idea they knew how to do: they used common sense, and nailed Sanders based on the visual evidence.
Now he just has to appeal the fine, and this will get fun.