With LaMarr Woodley being the latest Steeler to get a surprise fine for playing too rough, one wonders how long the league's talent will suffer this insanity. Don't get me wrong; I'm all for protecting the quarterback whenever possible. It's just that it isn't always possible. Sometimes the quarterback is a legitimate target. Spinning a passer to the ground during a sack is hardly roughing him up. And I'm fairly sure his mother warned him he could get hurt playing football. I know mine did. Of course she also told me I'd put an eye out doing just about everything. I'm not sure I understand this whole idea our new commish has on playing nicely. We don't pay to see nice games. If we did, we'd watch golf, which sometimes I do. I just don't "pay" to watch golf. I pay to see LaMarr Woodley fling Jason Campbell to the turf. And for millions of dollars he should try to do it properly without maliciousness. Then when on Monday night he did do what I pay to see him do, he gets fined because poor Mr. Campbell's head touched the turf a bit harder than our Commish likes to see. I didn't see Jason Campbell or the officials complain about it. Needless to say, the NFL's Hit Police saw it and their knickers quickly went into wad mode. They said... LaMarr Woodley sacked Jason Campbell in an intimidating manner. Intimidating equals illegal now? I saw the sack and it was a bit hard in my opinion, but that's about it. I don't know why anyone wouldn't want to intimidate a quarterback if they're playing on the defense. It's called pressuring him into a mistake.
Before this it was Harrison. Before him it was Ward. So far this season there have been several players from the Steeler's team that have been fined for non-penalty hits. Also for some reason, the Steelers seem to be receiving the majority of these fines this season. At least publically. Now in all fairness, almost every team has had these incredibly stupid fines put on one or more of their players... It just seems like the Steelers have received them more often and far more visibly than other teams. I think it's because the Steeler players speak out about it. Goodall seems to want to crush them for it. Or at least have his lackey do it. Ray Anderson is to Goodall what Himler was to Hitler. That may seem harsh, but it's actually fairly accurate. Himler was put in charge of policing the people in a way that made your skin crawl, and Anderson seems to be policing the players in a very similar way. Without Gene Upshaw around to stop them, Goodall and Anderson may very well scotch guard each and every player in the league. And you all thought that was the Players Union's job... Ray Anderson met with the Steelers privately in mid-October to discuss the players', coaches, and owner's critism of the league's fining proceedures. You may ask why it was "private" and why only the Steelers... It's a good question. Goodall likely felt that since Rooney himself questioned the policy that he had to meet with their team. They met privately because the NFL knows that "pansy" football, as Polomalu calls it, isn't popular amongst the public. So Goodall sent Anderson to meet with them. The most telling thing about this meeting was afterwards when the press mentioned that Ward didn't get a penalty call for the play in question, Anderson said... "that hit would be reviewed by the NFL’s competition committee to determine if that type of play should be illegal in the future." And that was after he had admitted that up to that date there had been close to 150 of these non-penalty fines imposed on players around the league. That means that they fine around two people per game per week for non-penalty hits. On an average of ten thousand dollars per fine that comes out to be three hundred thousand in fines per week, or around three million dollars to date with about five million total by season's end. Most all this goes into the retired players assistance fund for NFL players. The rest goes to various charities.
This brings up my next question; Why suddenly do they need to put close to five million dollars towards the retired players assistance fund? The question on it's own is accusitory I know. But it's one of those old detective hunches that I'd normally check into. Recently Goodall made a deal with the now late Gene Upshaw centering around seven million dollars of funding for this group for joint replacement surgeries. Now I'll stop short of actually accusing Goodall of trying to force the players to pay for what he already agreed the league would cover since there is no proof that those monies are even in leu of the agreed monies. I'd have to believe they aren't. So really this money goes back to the players, only just down the road in their careers. So why is Goodall so determined to safeguard these players to such an extent? Partly I'd think it's to make sure there isn't such a need for this much care later in life, and partly I believe it's just what Ray Anderson said when he pointed out that they intend to protect "Marquee" players at all costs. His thoughts are that we the fans pay to see the stars and therefore they should be protected. When he said this he had just finished saying that his goal is to protect all players from illegal and flagrant hits. Then he points out that the league's interest is more geared toward protecting what he calls "Marquee" players. Especially quarterbacks. So I guess it's ok to give Big Ben a bum shoulder, but you can't give Jason Campbell a headache? Well if you look at the two markets you'll see Pittsburgh's local market is much smaller than Washington's so it may explain why no player to date has been tagged with a fine for any of the sacks on Big Ben that weren't a penalty called by one of the refs. At least to my knowledge. Also Big Ben is never likely to put up the numbers in his passing game that guys like Brady and Romo and Campbell are going to. Hence the protecting "marquee" players. So they protect all players from illegal and flagrant hits while they protect "marquee" players from everything other than total worship. And they do this via the player's own checkbook. So tomorrow expect several fines for any player that doesn't politely ask Peyton Manning to lay down for his sack.
In the end I would have to think that my first question about when the talent will have had enough of this non-sense will be when the first and second strings of every NFL team refuse to dress during any week that one of these fantasy fines are handed out. Sure, it'll cost each player more than what a fine would run but it would quickly cost the league millions of dollars when no stadium sold out. In other words they need to do mini-strikes. At the very least the player fined should refuse to dress and should scream and yell to the media. Yes, I know the commish has told them not to tattle or they'd get fined, but hey that boat sailed already. Pete Rozelle and Paul Tagliabue were great commisioners. Roger Goodall seems to be a lot less than either of those men. Each week I like him less than the week before. I had hopes for him when he cracked down on players for their off field conduct, but then he didn't exact the same pound of flesh from Head Coach Belicheat of the Patriots. Now with the fantasy fines you never see coming, I really think he's about as crooked as most of our politicians, and as likable as most of our lawyers. Maybe we could talk him into trying to block Ward in one game this season... Now that's a sweet mental picture.