Show Me the Money!!

This season, helmet-to-helmet hits have become a hot topic in the NFL.  With a rash of concussions and other player injuries from these dangerous hits, the NFL decided to take a tough stance.  While we applaud their efforts to try and protect players, it seems the guidelines they have put into place defy logic.

Clearly, a “cheap shot” or flagrant dirty hit should be penalized.  But on most helmet-to-helmet hits, players are simply trying to make a play.  The current NFL guidelines are penalizing only defensive players for what they deem dangerous hits.  But, what about a big, Brandon Jacobs-like running back who lowers his head in a punishing run against his defenders?  That kind of play can result in an injury, but simply because an offensive player is the one delivering the hit, it is disregarded.

Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker James Harrison has been fined four times this season for a total of $125,000.  The latest fine, this past weekend, has caused a number of players to question the logic behind the NFL’s new policies.  Brian Urlacher, a Chicago Bears linebacker, calls the fines for hard hits “outrageous”.   In an ESPN radio interview yesterday, he showed his frustration with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and the current policy. 

I think it’s bull, the way they’re doing it. The thing I don’t like about it is, if they say it, you pay the fine. That’s all there is to it, and I don’t know who makes the decision. I don’t know if there’s one guy, two guys, but I don’t think it’s fair. I think we should have a panel of guys who look at those hits and go over them.

Hines Ward, of the Steelers, agrees that the current policy needs to be re-evaluated. 

We’re going to keep playing the way we always have been playing.  If they fine us, they fine us. It’s football. I don’t care what type of rules you do, you can’t protect (against) the physicality of this game. It’s always going to be a physical ballgame.

This past weekend, the on field brawl between Cortland Finnegan and Andre Johnson also drew fines from the NFL.  Each player was fined $25,000 dollars for the fight.  This is the same fine levied against James Harrison for a hit that the NFL deemed dangerous.  In the heat of the game, trying to make a tackle, it can easily be argued that Harrison’s hit was unintentional.  But Finnegan and Johnson made the decision to fight, long after the play was over.  To fine these players the same amount of money is illogical.  It is just one example of how the NFL’s current policy seems to have been haphazardly put together in reaction to concussions and helmet-to-helmet hits early in the season. 

The new NFL standards are reactionary, rather than a well-thought out policy.  The policy is so unpredictable and subjective, and in the end, simply unfair.  With so many players, former players and coaches speaking out against it, we hope Goodell and the NFL will re-evaluate their stance and let players play the game.

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