There’s been a lot of chatter surrounding Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver Kadarius Toney in the last 72 hours.
After he was a full participant in Wednesday’s practice and a limited participant in Thursday and Friday’s practices with a hip injury, Toney was listed as questionable for Sunday afternoon’s AFC Championship game.
On Saturday, however, the Chiefs announced they were downgrading Toney’s game status to out. At the same time, they changed his injury description to “hip/personal” — suggesting that the injury was still an issue, but there was also a personal reason why he was going to miss the game.
Then on Sunday morning, ESPN reporter James Palmer reported that Toney had a new baby girl, which would account for the “personal” part of Saturday’s modified injury description.
In the hours before kickoff, another story began circulating on social media. It was eventually picked up by some media sources. The story was that Toney had posted an audio recording of himself on social media. In a profane rant, the wideout claimed that he is not injured — that the Chiefs are making it up.
We have been unable to verify that Toney made this recording — or even that it was posted by an account that Toney controls. During his Monday press availability, Kansas City head coach Andy Reid was asked about the post — and how it would affect Toney’s status with the team.
“Yeah, I actually haven’t seen it,” said Reid. “I’ve heard people talk about it. But yeah — he’ll be back out there — and we’ll see how he does.”
In other words, Reid answered the question in the same way he would answer a question about any player who had missed a game after being limited in the previous practice: they would be back on the field for the next practice — and the team would evaluate how they are progressing.
Another reporter pressed for additional details.
“Obviously, he’s been on the injury report,” replied Reid. “So that part is not ‘made up’ by any means. He’s been working through some things — and he’ll be back out there.”
Let’s not forget that NFL teams can face significant fines for falsifying injury reports. Five teams were reported to have been caught (and fined) in 2022.
Punishment for breaking the rules is significant.
Clubs and individuals determined to be in violation of this rule will be subject to League discipline ‘to include a minimum fine of $350,000 for the club, a minimum fine of $100,000 for the head coach, a minimum fine of $50,000 for assistant coaches, if applicable, and a minimum fine of $50,000 for players. Please be advised that violations of this rule may also result in suspensions of persons involved, and/or the forfeiture of a draft choice(s), including for first offenses.
It seems very unlikely that the team is falsely reporting Toney’s injuries. And it also seems unlikely that if the wideout had really released such a damning proclamation about the team, it wouldn’t hesitate to take action.
But as Reid would put it... we’ll see how it goes.