Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Big Hits, Big Fines, Big Deal?

The NFL laid out three pretty hefty fines for this weekend's big hits, including 75k for James Harrison and 50k for both Brandon Meriweather and Dunta Robinson. None of those punishments fit the individual crimes.

If the NFL is talking about suspending players, then Meriweather should have been the initial example. If you watch the replay of his hit on a defenseless, airborne Todd Heap, you will see Meriweather coil his legs and launch his helmet straight into the helmet of Heap. His intent is obvious and should be punished as such. Former college teammate Eric Winston agrees.

"I love Brandon to death, but that was a flagrant foul," said Winston. "That's what the league is talking about," Winston said. "Dunta's hit, that wasn't even with the helmet. That was just a collision."

I also agree with Winston's take on Robinson's hit. It looks vicious in fast motion, but keep in mind the insane speed of DeSean Jackson. The same hit on a slower receiver doesn't look half as bad and Robinson's form is textbook, leading with his shoulder into the upper chest area of the receiver.

A slower receiver might not even be concussed by the hit, as the backlash would've been exponentially reduced. To fine a player for a textbook hit just because it causes a concussion is very results-oriented rather than intent-driven and is an unfair way to punish players.

Harrison's fine was larger because he is a repeat offender, having been fined for illegal hits before. He wasn't fined for hitting Josh Cribbs and he shouldn't have been, but his hit on Mohamed Massaquoi was arguably cleaner than the Cribbs one. Harrison doesn't lead with his helmet and if it wasn't for Massaquoi ducking to avoid the hit, there would've been no contact to his head.

The bottom line with these hits is that Meriweather's is really the only punishable one. I know the NFL is trying to prove a point but if you say you're going to suspend players and you have an opportunity, do it. I'd rather see Meriweather suspended for a game with no penalties for Robinson and Harrison then all three get fined.

And with all this hoopla surrounding the weekend's big hits, how can the NFL still legitimately consider an 18-game schedule? Yes, if these hits are properly policed (which I've yet to see) then players may be able to last 18 games but honestly, the only thing I'd like about an 18-game schedule is the replacement of a preseason game with a regular season game, incrementally increasing my profit selling my season tickets.

Many players have already spoken out against 18 games and many have recently spoken out about fines hindering their ability to play the game at a high level. Harrison even said he'd consider retirement. He won't, but the players do have a legitimate gripe.

Robinson's and Harrison's hits were not dirty, were not illegal by the rules and only resulted in penalties due to the results of the hits, not the hits themselves. Heap didn't even suffer a concussion from Meriweather's hit, which was really the only dirty hit (from a very dirty player, dating back to his days at The U).

If the NFL is going to penalize players for illegal hits, they need to focus on the hit and not the result. Meriweather's hit was the worst, but was also the only one that didn't result in a concussion.

Players wouldn't have to change how they play the game to avoid hits like Meriweather's; they would just have to not be scumbags and go after the head of a defenseless player. The NFL is heading down a slippery slope with these punishments and I hope they realize that before it's too late to turn back.

No comments:

Post a Comment