Ed Bouchette stole my thunder on PG Plus Wednesday.
With all that is going on, I had mind to let the La Toalla Terrible run wild with another post about how the NFL was encouraging Harrison to sucker punch quarterbacks.
But La Toalla Terrible already ranted about how the NFL had legalized holding of James Harrison and about how the NFL would only announce when the league was not fining Harrison. But La Toalla plays a comic relief role, and the James Harrison situation has ceased to be funny…..
No Conspiracy Theories Here But…
The NFL does not “have it in” for the Pittsburgh Steelers. Two years ago, the league bent over backwards to ensure that the Rooneys retained ownership of the Steelers. Had the league harbored any ill will, or even neutral will, toward the Steelers, they would have acted differently.
But that certainly does not make their actions toward James Harrison logical or just.
The Power of the Free Market
Free market principles dictate that the value of something is defined by the amount that someone is willing to pay.
Normally we think of this in terms of goods and services, but the same principle applies to fines. I can remember the “One Will Cost You a $100” signs when they first banned smoking in the Boston Subways.
With this mini economics lesson in mind, let’s consider the how severly the NFL values deviant. Let’s begin by conceding that infractions will occur, and that the more serious the infraction, the higher the cost.
In other words, pass interference draws an automatic first down and movement of the ball to the spot of the foul, while the cost of a false start is far lower by comparison.
Now watch for yourself:
Let’s dissect Richard Seymour’s transgression. This Oakland Raider:
- Punched a player, something he is never supposed to do
- And did it outside the normal course of play
- Did so deliberately
His actions were illegal, intentional, and totally outside of a play. Taking all of that into consideration, the league fined him $25,000
Now, watch the latest play by James Harrison that drew a fine (you’ll get to see all of his fineable hits, the last one is at the end):
In contrast to Seymour, James Harrison’s sack of Ryan Fitzpatrick (and arguably the others):
- Occurred as he was executing the responsibilities of his position
- Occurred during the normal course of play
- Was unintentional and within the rules
NFL rules prohibit helmet to helmet contact, and prohibit a defender from leading with the crown of his helmet.
While James Harrison’s helmet (the facemask perhaps) might have make contact – with Fitzpatrick’s chest, it is impossible to argue that he led with the helmet.
Taking all of this into consideration, the NFL fined James Harrison… $25,000.
NFL in “Transition” to… What?
Terry Long, Justin Strzelczyk, and Hall of Famer Mike Webster serve as reminders to Steelers Nation that the importance of protecting players for head trauma is paramount.
The NFL’s new “get tough” policy on hits that involve helmets goes beyond protecting players.
- In effect, if not because of intent, it is an attempt to neuter defenders.
There is no other way to explain the fact that flagrantly violating the rules in an attempt to hurt someone carries the same price an unintentional hit that perhaps violates the letter of the law.
The Steelers as an organization might not be unfairly targeted in this endeavor, but James Harrison as an individual certainly is.
So the next time James Harrison gets blatantly held with no flag thrown, or he gets penalized for brushing up against a quarterback a second too soon, he might as well haul off and upper cut the quarterback.
It will not cost him any more than he is already paying for simply doing his job.
Oh yes, punching the quarterback would also get James Harrison thrown out of the game…
…But perhaps that’s just what the NFL wants to see happen.