PITTSBURGH - NFL coaching staffs seem to get bigger every year.
The Dallas Cowboys employ 17 assistant coaches this season, for example. The first year the Pittsburgh Steelers went to the Super Bowl, Chuck Noll had six assistants. No one had the title of offensive coordinator.
It's a game of specialization now, which means it's just a matter of time until someone adds a drama coach.
The Steelers could have used someone in that role to save Emmanuel Sanders a $15,000 fine for faking an injury. The organization was fined $35,000 for its role in Sanders' deceit.
It happened late in the Oct. 21 game at Cincinnati. Sanders was returning to the huddle when he suddenly went to the turf with what appeared to be a leg injury. The Steelers avoided using a timeout or risking a delay of penalty while trainers attended to Sanders.
They helped him off the field, and he sat out the next play, as the rules require. But then Sanders was back after no apparent sideline treatment. He really blew the ruse when he sprinted downfield on a punt.
NBC's Cris Collinsworth spotted what was happening right away. The NFL investigated and determined there was nothing really wrong with Sanders.
The league is taking this sort of violation seriously because players are trying to exploit safety regulations designed to protect them. That's why this goes beyond the level of someone claiming he nudged the ball across the goal line when he really didn't.
This is more along the lines of people who call 911 when they don't have an emergency. The NFL isn't willing to overlook it as mere gamesmanship.
It's still possible to fool the league authorities, but someone will have to do a better acting job than Sanders did. You can't make the kind of "miraculous" recovery he did and expect to get away with it.
There's a bad sign for the Pirates as they search for catching help.
David Ross, a career back-up, signed with the Boston Red Sox for two years and $6.2 million. There's a shortage of available catchers, and it's a sellers' market. Ross hit the jackpot.
The Pirates' solution may be a trade, and closer Joel Hanrahan is their biggest chip.
On their honor
Retired four-star general David Petraeus resigned as CIA director after admitting he had an extra-marital affair.
If sports worked that way, there would suddenly be a lot of open spots on a lot of teams.
Mehno can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org