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NFL fines for “illegal hits” in 2011

So we all know the entire implementation of the fines and threats of suspensions for “illegal” hits in the NFL in 2010 was the biggest joke on the planet. James Harrison gets nailed for a total of $125,000 in fines over the season, and plenty of others were hit with fines of 15, 20, 25K, and up. Harrison was the obvious poster boy and the one that got called into Roger Goodell’s office in New York to talk about it. For weeks on end the NFL was issuing statements and warnings to the clubs about what was legal and what wasn’t. Sending out videos of what they said was an illegal hit, with Harrison’s plays at the forefront just fueled the fire of many teams besides the Steelers.

The league should have waited until next season to implement these changes in the first place. Had they not jumped the gun and changed everything in a knee jerk reaction we could have avoided all the problems that came about last year. They should have taken all the hits into account, talked it over with the NFLPA and then figured out how best communicate any rules changes. Possibly easier said than done, but in my opinion it would have been the better way to go. They have taken credit for “cleaning up the NFL and making it more safe” with their changes but in reality the few big hits that did happen were not the norm and haven’t been at any time in the modern era of NFL football. Clearly the officials called games differently when the Steelers played, and scrutinized James Harrison and Ryan Clark especially in an unfair manner. It’s not about “sour grapes” with Steeler players and fans with this, it’s reality. The officials were told to call the games tighter and regardless of what anybody says, you can’t tell me they weren’t looking at the Steelers especially each week. In an effort to do their jobs, they ended up making the whole situation worse.

So how do you think they will change this rule in 2011, if at all? Does it need changed? My answer would be, just take it back to what it’s been up until a few big hits caused the new punishments last year. Atleast now teams will be able to talk about it in the offseason, training camp, and in all the meetings and get everyone on the same page (whenever they can actually start doing team functions again).

Perhaps the league will realize it was over the top last year and attempt to bring things to a happy medium. We know the ball carrier will instinctively crouch down when the big hit is coming, and consequently the defender aiming for his chest or shoulders is now suddenly starring down the impact of a helmet to helmet hit. That’s what players have were saying all along but the league refused to see it.  Players haven’t suddenly started tackling any differently than they did before, nor have ball carriers begun reacting any differently than they have before.

Only time will tell if anything changes, but clearly it needs too…

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