The National Football League is working overtime to try to clean up its image, cutting down on cheating, off-field incidents, and illegal hits. Unfortunately, the NFL needs to work harder on the one thing that makes a player and the league successful; consistency.
Certainly, there are many reasons to applaud Roger Goodell’s efforts to police the league and help to put a little more polish on the top professional sports brand in the U.S. However, while Goodell has the best intentions in the world, both he and his office are struggling in their efforts to treat each and every situation fairly and evenly across the board.
Let’s look at the recent incidents involving James Harrison of the Pittsburgh Steelers and a separate incident involving Andre Johnson of the Houston Texans and Cortland Finnegan of the Tennessee Titans. Now, neither incident is identical in nature, as Harrison was fined numerous times this season, including the most recent fine of $25,000 on November 30th for roughing the passer with a helmet-leading hit, while Johnson and Finnegan were each fined $25,000 for yanking each other’s helmets off and brawling on November 28th.
Harrison’s got a reason to be upset. He’s been levied with $125,000 in fines this season for four hits, of which he maintains they were legal, while Johnson and Finnegan get ejected for a fistfight and get slapped on the wrist with a fine and no suspension. Now in fairness, that is an identical fine to the one handed down to Richard Seymour when he swatted at the side of Ben Roethlisberger’s helmet earlier this season, but the Johnson-Finnegan bout was also much more vicious and malicious than Seymour blowing off some steam. Putting those actions on par with Harrison’s hit is simply not an equal evaluation of the incidents.
That leads me to my second example, this one involving the Broncos recording of San Francisco walk-through before last month’s game in London. Fining Josh McDaniels and the Denver Broncos each $50,000 for taping a 49er practice is a complete inequality of the rules. Sure, McDaniels, in his own words, turned down the opportunity to view the tapes made by former video director Steve Scarnecchia, but he also wasn’t honest enough to come forward and report the rules violation. Maybe that has more to do with the fact that both McDaniels and Scarnecchia were members of the New England Patriots staff that got busted for breaking the same rules.
Regardless, the Broncos got off pretty light here. In comparison to the Patriots incident in 2007, this was especially an injustice. New England lost a first round draft pick, coach Bill Belichick was personally fined $500,000, and the Patriots team was fined another $250,000 for the incident. All of the fines were levied prior to the league learning that New England had been recording signals since 2000. Once has to hope that Commissioner Goodell took into consideration McDaniels proclaimed innocence when handing down the punishment. Still, considering it involved a similar player in the previous drama, you would have thought that something a little more substantial would have been handed down.
Commissioner Goodell deserves credit for his efforts. Now he just needs to streamline how things are handled and how punishments are handed down evenly so that each incident gets a just punishment, not a slap on the wrist.
– Steelers Harrison Fined $25K For Fitzpatrick Hit, sports.yahoo.com
– Johnson, Finnegan Fined, No Suspensions, sports.yahoo.com
– Raiders DL Richard Seymour Fined $25,000, sports.yahoo.com
– McDaniels, Broncos Get Slap On The Wrist, sports.yahoo.com
– Spygate, wikipedia.com
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