In a recent ESPN Article, Troy Polamalu said that the fines the NFL charges its players for big hits are turning football into a pansy game. He also believes that the NFL is doing it more for revenue than for the safety of its players. League Commissioner Roger Goodell called Polamalu’s comments “very disappointing.” This article was kind of an eye opener for me. The NFL has always levied fines against players who are playing unfairly or playing in a way that endangers or puts at risk the health and safety of other players on the team. I totally agree with the NFL in fining people for playing dirty, but where do you draw the line?
The article mentioned $15,000 of fines against Hines Ward for unnecessary roughness while blocking down field even though the officials did not call any penalties against him. James Harrison was fined $20,000 for criticizing a referee who called Roughing-the-Passer against him. Also $7,500 of fines were charged to Nate Washington (Taunting) and Ryan Clark (Late Hit).
I feel that the league should handle fines on a case-by-case basis because the situations and circumstances regarding the actions a player took are unique to each game’s situation. Yet, I do feel that Polamalu was right, and that the league’s recent splurge of fees is quite unnecessary and detrimental to the game. Playing organized football for 6 years and backyard football for the majority of my life, the game has always been about the big hit or the big block (and touchdown dances…I also don’t believe the league should fine players for celebrating after scores). At my high school, if you had a highlight reel worthy tackle or pancake block, you got a star on your helmet. If the hit or block just totally destroyed the other player, you got a star and a shirt with a skull and crossbones and the word “hitter” on it. Being aggressive and making the big play and the big hit is what football is all about, so why is the league trying to deter that aspect of the game, especially when it is what the fans pay to see? It’s not like every time a runningback is handed the ball, he’s not aware that there are 11 guys with different jerseys on trying to end his career.
I also think that if a ref did not feel the need to penalize a player for unnecessary roughness, then, in the majority of cases (obviously there are always exceptions to the rule and refs miss calls), the league shouldn’t be able to go back retrospectively and fine those players. The refs are professionals on the field who are paid to make those calls in the heat of the moment. If they don’t see it as necessary, I don’t see why the league should.
I’m not saying that all fines are not warranted because some definitely are, but I do believe that the league needs to rid themselves of this fine happy attitude and be realistic and fair to the players that give it their all every Sunday. I also believe that as agents and potential agents, we have a responsibility to our clients to make sure that the league is treating them fairly and not fining our clients unnecessarily. I’d love to hear what our community has to say about this topic and maybe any possible remedies to the situation.