Secrecy about football injuries can come with a price.
Per two reports on NFL Network, the league Friday fined Mike Tomlin $25,000 for failing to report that Ben Roethlisberger's elbow was hurting in advance of the Steelers' 24-20 loss to the 49ers, Sept. 22 in Santa Clara, Calif. The previous game, a loss to the Seahawks, Roethlisberger exited early because of pain in the right elbow. Two days after the loss to the 49ers, he had season-ending surgery in Los Angeles.
Roethlisberger was never on the official injury report in the week leading up to the game, a requirement for all teams and, ultimately, the responsibility of the head coach.
How did the NFL figure it out?
There was no announcement regarding the fine -- there seldom is -- but it's easy to conclude the league became aware of several public statements by Mason Rudolph, Maurkice Pouncey and others acknowledging that Roethlisberger's elbow had been bothering him in the days before the San Francisco game.
This was Rudolph's quote the week after that game when asked about Roethlisberger's injury: "Really, the first I heard of it was this past week, I guess, right after the New England game, expressing some pain. But that was the first I'd heard. You'd have to ask him or Coach Tomlin if it was preexisting before that, but I have no clue."
The opponent can complain about it, too, though it's hard to fathom the still-undefeated 49ers would've had sour grapes. It also could've been someone from within the league simply noticing it, or it arose from the always attentive gambling community that relies on injury reports to place informed bets.