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Fining Polamalu is OK, but …


OK, we get the point.

Safety is a very important issue to the NFL, and the league is going to extreme measures to make sure players understand that.

As first reported by the Tribune-Review, Troy Polamalu was fined $15,000 for what seemed like an innoncent and accidental horse-collar tackle on Baltimore’s Ricky Williams on Sunday.

It may have seemed innoncent to me and you, but the NFL has obviously made it an issue to fine every single horse-collar tackle this year with the minimum being $15,000.

As long as its consistent, that’s fine (no pun intended).

But seriously, how hypocritical is the NFL in going about safety?

On one hand, they are promoting safety to the extreme by fining players like Ike Taylor for an minimal head butt on Michael Oher (and believe me, I re-watched it like five times and there wasn’t much contact at all), but nothing is done or said about the very dangerous chop blocks on Steelers nose tackle Casey Hampton.

OK, I read the comments by Jim Harbaugh about the plays being legal, and by the letter of the law, they are legal. However, that doesn’t dissipate how fact of how dangerous the play really is.

While tooling around Twitter earlier Friday, I came across a response from the NFL head PR man Greg Aiello to a question from a fan confused of why a horse-collar tackle is more of a fine than punching someone (Charles Woodson was fined $10K for punching a Saints player last week).

Aiello’s response was: “Rather have torn ACL or risk punch 2 padded body? Give ME a break.”

He also went on to tweet: “There have been several player who have sustained serious knee injuries (ACL tear included) from horse collar tackles.”

And there have been several players who have sustained serious knee injuries from cut and chop blocks as well, but the NFL seems not to care.

Just ask Chiefs safety Eric Berry, who had his season come to an end last week because of a cut block.

The NFL is very committed to provide safety to its players, and if that means fining players for a dangerous play, then so be it.

But let’s just be consistent about it.

Treat Casey Hampton like you treat Ricky Williams.

– By Mark Kaboly


Author: Mark Kaboly

Mark Kaboly is the Pittburgh Steelers beat writer for the Tribune-Review. Mark has covered more than 300 NFL football games in all 32 NFL cities as well as three Super Bowls -- XL in Detroit, XLIII in Tampa and XLV in Dallas. A Belle Vernon Area graduate, Mark earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in English with a specialization in journalism from California University of Pennsylvania. Mark lives in Port Vue with his wife, Jennifer; daughter Briella; and boys Rocco and Bugsley Pug


  1. pedro says:

    Clearly the NFL has a big problem with being consistent. Obviously some teams are teaching dangerous techniques while others are being clean. The Ravens are desperate to beat the Steelers and I believe Harbaugh would sell his soul to the devil
    to accomplish that end.

  2. Gus says:

    Talk about the league being inconsistent. What I don’t understand is why Ike Taylor was fined for a head tap on Michael Ohre, while Michael Ohre escapes unfined with a punch to Ike Taylor’s foot which caused Taylor to turn around and tape Ohre’s head. How does the league miss that? Doesn’t the league watch tape to see why things happen on the field? But they sure got Palamalu for that horse tackle.

  3. Bill says:

    Speaking of consistency, or the abject lack thereof from the NFL offices, where is Plaxico’s suspension? More to the point, where is the outcry over the lack of one? Am I wrong, but didn’t he just get out of jail for committing a felony by bringing an unlicensed, loaded handgun into a liquor establishment, for which he was charged, tried, and convicted? Wasn’t Vick also charged, tried and convicted of a felony and sent to prison? He was suspended by the league before being allowed to resume his career upon his release. And don’t even get me started on Ben’s bogus suspension…. No evidence, no charges, no trial, no conviction, no jail time, yet he got a 4 game suspension. If there’s one thing we’ve learned over the last several years, consistency of enforcement is NOT a term that’s in Goodell’s vocabulary.

  4. Jack says:

    The Steelers need to have their guards take turns chop blocking Ngata on every play, then we’ll see how much Harbaugh likes that technique.

  5. David says:

    no it is not okay to fine on this one, when will fines stop, before its a fine for illegal hits, helmet to helmet, and hitting a player that hasn’t set two feet down, my gosh, next itll be linemen being fined ( steelers ofcoarse ) for engaging the opposition……. utterly rediculous, i agree player safety is paramount, but NOT EVERY tackle should have a fine attached to it, Ray Anderson, and Goodell do have too much power on assessing fines, Troys tackle wasn’t flagrant , n0 one got a fine for using troys hair to tackle him from behind, why because its an extension of the body, oops well isn’t a shoulder pad an extension, and if not, then grabbing the jersey should be brought up at the next safety meeting to stop players from grabbing on to the body, this nothing but making up the rules as they go,,,,, its just plain dumb.

  6. Dick says:

    Look, let’s be real about this safety issue. The player’s association should be more involved here. They have a dillemma. On the one hand they have the player’s safety issue, on the other there is the fairness and equity of the fines that are levied. It looks like the league, player’s union, and game officials are confused and unsure of how to deal with this. They are dealing with it in a piecemeal fashion now and, no matter what anyone thinks it is not working like some people think it is. They could very well be ruining this game and, what a shame that would be. There should be a meeting of all involved to put their heads together and come up with a rational and equitable plan to deal with safety. This should include all facets of safety and the enforcement thereof. No one party should dictate this. There is too much involved. The union needs to step up and do more to broker this on the part of the players. The league is going about this in the wrong way. They need to back down and try a different approach that would satisfy and benefit all.

  7. I thought someone on the Ravens also got a penalty for a horse collar on us. Did they get a fine?

  8. James Thompson says:

    The question is, naturally, will the fines work? Somehow, I doubt it since the way football has so long been played has been players seeing what they can get away with, especially when it gets physical, down, and dirty. And then, it’s the fines’ inevitable inconsistency, which only encourages some players to attempt to push the envelope still more.

  9. Dick says:

    QUESTION —– Why is a horse collar tacklle deemed more dangerous than a blatant grab of a facemask whipping around a player to the ground? Maybe Goodell or Aiello can answer this.

  10. Dan says:

    You make great points in this article Mark. However, the questionable priorities from the NFL are easily explained.

    The NFL cares about offense. More offense. When they make decisions, they have a litmus test: Will this rule/fine/etc help the offense? When they talk about safety, they are talking about offense. Casey Hampton’s knees do not help offense, so the NFL doesn’t care about them. Eric Berry’s knees do not help offense, so the NFL doesn’t care about them. And so on…

  11. Bill Z says:

    If the NFL want’s to be consistant, why not just fine every player that commits a personal foul?

  12. jason says:

    why not just start with running that sham of a commissioner out of town? helping that buffoon get installed as commish was one of Dan Rooneys biggest mistakes. Please Dan, help get him canned. He is a complete tool and is an unfair crook. His NFL is a bastardization of the real game of football and I hate him.

  13. dsk says:

    What’s next, fining players for false starts?

  14. David says:

    well, out of 32 teams, which in a bigger perspective is 34 games, there were only 3 fines levied by the NFL and Lord Goodell, and 2 are against the Steelers, hmmmmmmmm, Really! really. REALLY!!!!! That is an astouding percentage against one team of 32…. everyone do the math, sounds like conspiracies, and the NFL against the Pittsburgh Steelers again this year…. we know where the eyes are at!,i would suit Goodell for harassment…..

  15. David says:

    you know those redlight traffic cams that impipherating the globe, well, im pretty positive there are goodell cams attached to every steelers game, home and away, we need to search, seek, and dismantle this astrocity of unbiased against the 31 other NFL teams, and try to find equal ground or the bestdamteam in sports annals…………. Goodell is a Monkey.. hehehehehehehahhahahha

  16. Jopa-n says:

    I just want the NFL to be consistent within the very calls they do flag, and or fine, from game to game. Example: How does the blatant low shot to Ben- Dead on at his knees until he jumped back against Philly- go ‘no harm, no foul, no fine ‘, and a horse collar tackle by anybody- anywhere- gets the full scorn of the league (penalty, fine, ridicule)?

    The Philly defender lead with his helmet directly at Ben’s knees and did not extend his arms (which is the type of play that started all this fining in the first place) while a horse collar tackle- while a violation- is a tackle that very well can be inches from being legal depending how the defender reaches and or the player moves at the last second.

    Lesson being that most LB’s and DB’s could very well get called for a horse collar tackle just by being put in situation where it can occur so often, where as the cheap shot on Ben can not be ruled a fluke based on the defender using his helmet as a weapon to the knees of a QB.

    I don’t have to agree with the rules, I just don’t want to be sitting there in shock from week to week as to what gets called and what dosen’t and or what gets fined and does not.

  17. mhunterjr says:

    wait a second. This NFL’s practice is to fine players for ILLEGAL acts, not simply acts that COULD lead to injury. That said, the NFL has over they years outlawed certain block and tackles based on how likely and how serious injuries are as a result of them.

    Your argument is that chop blocks should be illegal, fine. but to suggest that players should be fined for legal practices is silly.

    now , lets investigate the dangers associated with cut and chop blocking. First of all the league already has strict rules in place regarding use of these maneuvers… Likely written in blood. The remaining instances for when it is OK, afford the defender an opportunity to defend himself against it. This is VERY DIFFERENT from what takes place during horse collars and other defenseless tackles. Finally, more lineman get injured every year as a result of misfortune during typical blocking maneuvers. That’s hardly motivation for any changes with regard to this issue. If we are going to start fining actions because they simply COULD be dangerous, then maybe the NFL should outlaw blocking and tackling all together.

  18. David says:

    I am totally convinced that the 3 headed monster: Goodell – Aiello – Anderson, are not looking at all the games, we all know they are looking at 1 game ………. 2 fines levied to the Steelers, of 3, out of 32 teams…. they must spend Monday morning pulling up the Steelers game, and then one other to make it look like the Steelers aren’t the only team being fined, If I were, Art II, i would definitly look into this, 30 other teams came clean this week on something illegal…………..

  19. zeke says:

    Hey folks, ya got beat. Anybody giving up seven turnovers ain’t gonna win. The trunovers didn’t come from your alleged cheap blocks.

  20. Scott P says:

    There has been zero consistency in any of the NFL’s actions since Chooch Goodell assumed the position of Dictator. Most recently, how do you defend the suspension of Terrell Pryor while Pete Carroll freely roams the sidelines?

  21. Scott P says:

    Your post (#10) is spot on. Goodell has turned the sport I love in to an unrecognizable hybrid between Arena, and flag football. It is all about flashy offensive explosions. The NFL does not want to see smash mouth football. They want Brees vs. Brady and 900 passing yards in every game. It’s ridiculous!!

  22. Dean Geary says:

    It’s all about parity! The Steelers have been to 8 SB’s and won 6! The NFL does not want the Steelers in the SB anymore (See Ben’s Suspension)The Steelers RARELY sign high profile free agents, so the players association and the NFL HATE THAT! (See unfair fines and penalties!) The Patriots have Tom Brady (The NFL loves him!) and they sign problem child free agents every year (See Randy Moss, Chad Johnson) The NFL LOVES THAT! How many fines have Patriots received in the last 2 years? The Steelers play DEFENSE and the NFL (and non Pittsburgh sports writers) hate that. Does anybody think that when teams play the Steelers, that those head coaches drill their offensive players to lower their heads deliberately to get the penalties? HHMMMMMM! Food for thought.

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