Football great LaDanian Tomlinson’s knee injury kept him from playing for most of this past Sunday’s Chargers-Patriots NFL playoff football game. Everyone who follows NFL football knows that Tomlinson is one of the key players for the Chargers and that had he been healthy enough to play (even at less than 100%) it would have been much more likely that the San Diego Chargers could have defeated the New England Patriots. What many people do not know is the lack of integrity that surrounds this story.

The disturbing part of this story is not about who won or lost but about what some media sports analysts (and fans) said about Tomlinson not playing, including football commentator Deion Sanders. Tomlinson was accused by various folks as being soft, of not stepping up when he was most needed, even of being childish.

It seems that these people decided they were in a position to determine the severity was of Tomlinson’s knee injury from the previous week’s playoff game against the Indianapolis Colts, not to mention the extent of his capacity to play this past Sunday. This arrogance is a great example of lack of integrity brought about by discernment deficits.

Think about it: Would Tomlinson actually refuse to play if his knee was capable of helping him help his team win? Would his offensive line protect, support and help him be one of the great running backs in football history if they believed he was that selfish a player? Bear in mind that a football running back with a knee injury is just as damaging to his ability to perform as a shoulder injury in a quarterback’s throwing arm is to his ability to perform. Were those who criticized Tomlinson for not playing being discerning about these considerations? I sincerely doubt it. Again, their arrogance is a great example of lack of integrity brought about by deficits in their Discernment WisePassion.

Tomlinson is one of the people I cite as exemplifying 3D Integrity in my book, The New IQ: How Integrity Intelligence Serves You, Your Relationships and Our World. I suspect that he was telling the truth when he indicated that his injury had damaged his mobility to the point where he could best serve the collective highest good of his team by not indulging his own desire to play in the game. I suspect he was telling the truth when he said that his backups were physically more capable of contributing to his team’s highest good than he was.

When people are criticized for living at the intersection of what serves collective highest good and what serves their own wellbeing, this is an anti-integrity stance. When people are criticized for refusing to indulge their own self-centered desires (in this case to play in the game) because doing so would harm collective highest good (in this case their team), this is an anti-integrity stance.

To me, this is yet another example of how little understanding exists about what integrity really is. I wrote The New IQ to help turn this around.