Take a look at the sequence below:
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Do you see any problem with what happened? Good so do I.
Ray Anderson, however does not, and that is an issue.
This is no “Roger Goodell’s out to get the Steelers” piece. Yes, the Steelers have fallen on the short end of the NFL’s kangaroo justice system with startling frequency.
But Goodell stood foursquare behind Dan Rooney and Art Rooney II in 2008 when Tim, John, Pat and Art Rooney Jr. flirted with selling out to Stanley Druckenmiller. In stark terms, Goodell made clear that the NFL was intent on keeping team under Rooney control.
So save your “Goodell Hates the Steelers” speech. For whatever his faults are, Roger Goodell has no axe to grind with the Black and Gold.
- Mounting evidence suggests something quite different about Ray Anderson.
Steelers Nation: Meet Ray Anderson, NFL Discipline Czar
Is there any reason to like Ray Anderson? OK, hopefully he’s a fine man, nurturing father/husband and upstanding citizen, because his administration of justice in his role as NFL Executive Vice President of Football Operations is far from impartial.
In October 2008 Hines Ward delivered a devastating hit to Cincinnati linebacker Keith Rivers (video available as of 10/6/12).
At the time, Hines block was perfectly legal. But the incident nonetheless drew a visit from Ray Anderson.
After meeting privately with the Steelers Anderson proclaimed: “We are going to look at that, but under the current rules as written now, it was a clean hit. It was a legal hit.” The Post-Gazette counted the term “under the current rules” four times in Anderson’s press briefing.
At the time, Steelers Digest lambasted Anderson, honing in on Anderson decision to single Hines Ward out with a very public non-accusation accusation and asked, if the hit was legal, then why “look into it”?
- That was the first time Steelers Nation heard the name “Ray Anderson.” Unfortunately, it was not the last.
A year later Steelers Digest editor Bob Labriola praised, of all people, the Baltimore Ravens Ray Lewis. It issue was Lewis’ tirade denouncing a flag that had been thrown on Terrell Suggs after he’d barley touched Tom Brady. The worst part about it? The referee only threw a flag after Tom Brady’s request.
While Labriola made no bones about his disdain for the coddling the NFL was showering on Tom Brady and Peyton Manning, he took it as a hopeful sign that Ray Anderson declined to fine Ray Lewis and Jim Harbaugh for berating the officials. Perhaps a corner had been turned, the Steelers Digest editor suggested….
The NFL was turning a corner, unfortunately it wasn’t the one Labriola wanted it to turn.
2010 – Welcome to the National Fine League
Steelers Nation is well versed in this narrative. Suddenly, six weeks into the season, the NFL decides to get tough on helmet to helmet hits especially ones involving quarterbacks. Player safety is important, but uniform enforcement of the rules is an essential requirement to player protection.
Alas, Anderson and Goodell are anything but consistent:
- In November, James Harrison gets flagged and fined for a hit vs. that arrives .33 seconds late and where his face mask barely grazes Ryan Fitzpatrick’s numbers
- A week later, Roy Williams hits Ben Roethlisberger 1.3 seconds after releasing the ball – needless to say he is neither flagged nor fined
- Richard Seymour cold cocks Ben Roethlisberger between plays, gets fined less than Harrison has been fined for lesser offenses
- In 2011, Harrison suffers helmet to helmet hit in Arizona and breaks the orbital bone around his eye. The league does nothing
- Later that season, Ryan Clark makes textbook, clean tackle, vs. the Ravens league fines him for it
- Two games later, James Harrison gets suspended for one game for his hit on Colt McCoy
- Yet the Browns get little more than a slap on the wrist for putting badly concussed McCoy back in the game
See any sort of trend there?
Philip Wheeler Gets a Pass for Illegal Hit on Ben Roethlisberger
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- After he releases the ball (illegal)
- Below the knee (also illegal)
- From behind (not illegal, but hardly justifiable given the points above)
Behind the Steel Curtain’s Neal Coolong analyzed this play right after it happened, and predicted that Wheeler would not be hit because he was blocked towards Roethlisberger by Kelven Beachum.
Wheeler could argue, reasoned Coolong, that his momentum carried him into Roethlisberger.
While Wheeler was clearly blocked towards Roethlisberger and I respect Coolong’s objectivity, there is no way momentum was responsible for that hit.
Wheeler tired to play it off, but he clearly kept himself moving, and with Roethlisberger’s lower leg in sights.
- Clear to everyone it would seem, but Ray Anderson.
Justice is supposed to be blind.
- But Ray Anderson simply as a blind spot when it comes to illegal hits suffered by Steelers.
I don’t think so either.