Or what’s a penalty flag for?

James Harrison was fined $20,000 today for this hit:

YouTube Preview Image

Really. $20,000 on a play that injured no one, and that was likely a case of James just not being able to stop himself as you can see he tried to strip the ball during the hit. It doesn’t make it right, but it’s a penalty that is common enough in football that they have a specific name for it.

Roughing the passer.

It’s not an anomaly for which we have no name or signal. It’s not a guy trying to stomp a quarterback’s head flat (EXCESSIVE STOMPAGE. FIFTEEN YARD PENALTY.) It’s not a guy trying to pants a quarterback (PANTSING. TEN YARD PENALTY. PANTSING RESULTING IN DISPLAYED GENITALIA. FIFTEEN YARD PENALTY, AUTOMATIC FIRST DOWN).

It was a late hit. It happens. A penalty was called and guess what, that penalty hurt us, as penalties are designed to do.

Now the NFL has gone further by fining for late hits and other things they normally took care of with penalty flags.

Where does it end now that it has begun?

How about a $10,000 fine for every time Casey Hampton’s giant butt falls on someone’s face?

How about a $5,000 fine for every time a player gets the wind knocked out of him?

A $20,000 fine for a particularly rough but legal block?

How about color-coded penalty flags that use the terror threat level chart to determine corresponding fine?

I realize football injuries are serious and I’m not trying to be flip, but this latest fine on James Harrison is the start of something big in the NFL, and I don’t know that I like what it will do to the sport.

Take hockey. Players and fans relish the fights. FIGHTS. Not crushing checks, but the punching and decking and eye-gouging and the momentum-shifting post-fight shushing.

Take that away and hockey would not be hockey.

There’s got to be a way to let football be football, without fining every infraction that could possibly injure a player because these guys did not go into football as a profession thinking about leotards or double axels or birdies or foot faults.

I just hope they figure it out before the game changes too much and we’re spending a Sunday watching James Harrison try his damnedest to rip a flag off of Drew Brees’ belt.


  1. Ex-Pat Pittsburgh Girl
    November 4, 2010 4:50 pm

    I agree, but what do you expect from the “No Fun League”. It is a business for them and I guess maybe they’re trying to stockpile even more obscene amounts of money in case there is a lockout next season.

  2. PA Girl in VA
    November 4, 2010 4:57 pm

    A clear sign that the apocalypse is upon us…..

  3. YinzerInExile
    November 4, 2010 5:08 pm

    This is so ridiculous. They are football players, not guys who keep showing up week after week expecting a knitting circle only to be strongarmed into a physical bout of sportsmanship.

    I hope Silverback’s last skull-smashing tackle is against Goodell, right before he takes his piles of money and runs off to join an actual knitting circle.

    And then I hope he knits Goodell a frilly pink head cast cozy.

  4. Scott
    November 4, 2010 5:13 pm

    “on a play that injured no one”

    A player shouldn’t be penalized simply because someone was injured and shouldn’t be relieved of a penalty because someone was not injured. The aftermath shouldn’t play that much of a factor because there are many other factors that can go into whether an injury occurs.

    I agree with Troy that the bigger issue is the fairly arbitrary seeming $ amounts and enforcement by a few individuals at the league level.

  5. BeauJacques
    November 4, 2010 5:48 pm

    Jack #58 Lambert referring to the “then,” circa 1980 “quick whistle on quarterbacks” rule:

    “Why don’t we just put skirts on ’em??”
    — Jack Lambert —

    “If I could start my life all over again, I would be a professional football player, and you damn well better believe I would be a Pittsburgh Steeler.”
    — Jack Lambert —

    “Yes, I get satisfaction out of hitting a guy and seeing him lie there a while.”
    — Jack Lambert —

    “Jack Lambert IS the Pittsburgh Steelers.”
    — Former Browns coach Sam Rutigliano —

    “I believe the game is designed to reward the ones who hit the hardest. If you can’t take it, you shouldn’t play”
    — Jack Lambert —

    Goodell is a rat-bastard pussy!!!! imho

  6. L-A
    November 4, 2010 5:56 pm

    i agree with scott in his agreement with Troy. There needs to be a system of checks and balances so good ole roger doesn’t keep handing out these stupid fines. it’s getting ridiculous. there was a smart dude who once figured out that an object in motion STAYS in motion. harrison is a big object…in motion…unless he is superhuman, he can’t stop on a dime everytime. stupid. stupid. stupid.

    btw love this: “How about color-coded penalty flags that use the terror threat level chart to determine corresponding fine?”

  7. bucdaddy
    November 4, 2010 6:42 pm

    Actually, I don’t like the fights in hockey. Actually, I kind of detest the fights in hockey. If I wanted to see fights, I’d go to boxing matches and watch the professionals. If I wanted to see amateurs fight, I’d hang out on SouthSide on Saturday nights.

    I’d rather not see fights in ANY pro sport, because they’re moronic.

  8. JJ
    November 4, 2010 7:05 pm

    amen, sister friend!

  9. Noelle
    November 4, 2010 10:31 pm

    I always considered most hockey fights (because they wear so much padding) more like hugging each other aggressively while spinning around in a circle until someone shows up to slide them apart. But then, I’m originally from Detroit, what do I know?

  10. Heather
    November 4, 2010 11:27 pm

    “I believe the game is designed to reward the ones who hit the hardest. If you can’t take it, you shouldn’t play”
    – Jack Lambert —

    BeauJacques, that is EXACTLY what I thought of when I heard this announcement today!

    Lame, lame, lame.

  11. hoosierburgher
    November 4, 2010 11:33 pm

    How does one get to be the Commissioner of the NFL? Is there some vote that happens? Or, is it like some kind of monarchy or succession? Can we impeach him? I vote YES! I mean, I kind of get where he’s coming from, but where does it end?

  12. BeauJacques
    November 4, 2010 11:59 pm

    I picture Goodell spending his off-season in some sleazy sex dungeon with a gag-ball, dressed in frilly lingerie, getting spanked and kissing the boots of some cross-dressing Dom,

    but that’s just me.

  13. Ms Redd
    November 5, 2010 8:03 am

    Just the fact that Troy P, of all players, is speaking out about the commissioner’s omnipotent power says alot. It is becoming quite apparent that Goodell has it out for James Harrison. And if Art Rooney is as good buddies with Goodell as it is said, he should go have a nice tete a tete with him.

  14. Angry Mongo
    November 5, 2010 8:04 am

    I just don’t understand it. It took Goodell just shy of a month to suspend Ben for something he may or may not have done and was not charged for.

    Brett Favre shows off his winky….and there’s photographs and is still lacing up.

    James Harrison taps a guy on the shoulder and money falls out of his pocket.

    WTF GOODELLL!?!?!?

  15. gunnlino
    November 5, 2010 8:36 am

    The whole thing is juvenile,
    ie; Your local traffic cop stops you today and says” I think I saw you speeding yesterday. So I’m writing you a cite today. ”

    Yeah. That would go over well in court.

  16. Angry Mongo
    November 5, 2010 8:38 am

    @gunnlino Isn’t that what they do with those cameras at red lights? They go back and watch the tape and then mail you a citation.

  17. red pen mama
    November 5, 2010 8:40 am

    Aside from you, Ginny, I think @yinzerinexile says it best. I am still puzzling this one out, and it truly seems to me a personal issue with Goodell, Harrison, and maybe the Steelers? I don’t know how other people around the league see it yet, but it seems arbitrary. At best.

  18. Craig
    November 5, 2010 9:01 am

    Does anyone else wonder why it should take three hours to play a one hour game? The advertisers and money grubbers have ruined the “game” of football. If they had to play the way Lambert and Ham played, it would be a different game and not just another soulless business.Why not take the soccer approach, let the game run and stick your ads in the corner.

  19. Angry Mongo
    November 5, 2010 9:07 am

    @Craig Or better yet, have the uniforms be like NASCAR.

    The most obvious is Troy Polamalu with an ad for Head & Shoulders on his uniform.

    James Harrison for UPMC Neurology or Chiropractics

    Ben for eHarmony.com

    Jeff Reed for Cheetos or Valtrex

    Matt Spaeth for Royal Flush Port-a-johns

    Casey Hampton for Hostess

    Hines Ward for Allstate

    Dan Sepulveda for Fainting Couches R Us

    Mike Wallace for Supercuts

    Rashard Mendenhall for U-Haul

    Limas Sweed for Stickum

    Larry Foote for Tinactin

    I’ll be here all week.

  20. bucdaddy
    November 5, 2010 9:20 am

    Craig: If NFL games lasted only three hours I might watch once in awhile (I’d still wonder why everyone associated with football yells at me all the time), but 3:30, 3:45 is more like it.

    Same goes for baseball. I love baseball but I can’t watch those 4 1/2-hour playoff games.

    College basketball games now routinely run 2:20, 2:30 where they used to be under two hours, and NBA games take a three-hour block of TV time.

    The only sport among the big four that made any meaningful moves to keep the games quick and crisp is the NHL, when it altered the red-line rule. My memory is that NHL games used to run about 2:40 and now they clock in at about 2:25, 2:30, which is great. It’s a fast game meant to be played with few interruptions, and now that it is, it’s often a beautiful game as well.

    Except when morons drop the gloves and waste five minutes wrestling with their shirts over their heads.

  21. emilie
    November 5, 2010 9:25 am

    Anybody else just want to tell Goddell that they are playing FOOTBALL. These guys know the risks and rewards associated with playing this game. If they don’t then they are just kidding themselves.

    Look, I don’t condone intentionally injuring anyone, but sometimes accidents happen (when someone gets badly injured, ie the guy’s whose jaw Hines broke last season – it was a hard hit, but I hardly think Hines was all hey, I’m gonna break some bones today!).

    But this is football….it’s a tough sport. There are going to be hard hits and injuries and penalties. But let them play the game. All this arbitrary fining, etc is getting out of hand.

    You know it’s bad when Saint Troy is speaking out.

  22. LaReina
    November 5, 2010 9:46 am

    Harrison has a target on his back. Goodell certainly does seem to have some sort of fixation on him.

  23. Leigh
    November 5, 2010 11:19 am

    @ Angry Mongo #19 – very funny!

  24. mfj
    November 5, 2010 11:37 am

    Yeah, the NFL’s all about safety and nothing else. That’s why they’re pushing for an 18-game season, even though 100 percent of the players say that will shorten careers and make for even more long-term physical damage. And that’s why, until they got caught, they were selling photos of the same hit they fined James Harrison $75,000 for. They look out for players the same way Hannibal Lecter looks out for census takers.

  25. Silverback
    November 5, 2010 12:48 pm

    Those fines go to charity.

    and some of those charities ARE FOR SICK KIDS!!!!!

  26. Uesque
    November 5, 2010 2:11 pm

    NASCAR started fining for every infraction, even for swearing, and people stayed away in large numbers. Now this year they’ve said “Have at it” and people are starting to pay attention again. A lesson is to be learned there.

  27. Karen Dickinson
    November 5, 2010 2:52 pm

    Is James Harrison going to have to hit a player with his purse to avoid an NFL fine????

  28. gunnlino
    November 5, 2010 5:19 pm

    @ Silverback;
    Cite your reference Sir. How is it that you know this and the rest of the world makes no mention of it ?
    I may be a newbie but I’ve never seen the NFL advertise this.
    Stand up and be counted !

  29. cmd_45
    November 5, 2010 5:50 pm

    All I know is that you can clearly see James pull up when he hit Brees. He could have absolutely skewered him if he wanted to, but didn’t. It wasn’t malicious. I think is was close to not even being a penalty. I feel Goodell is trying to make an example of James but I also think that James is so much better than so many players, they are actually trying to level the playing field.

  30. Leigh
    November 5, 2010 7:35 pm

    @ gunnlino #28 – I was listening to sports talk radio and someone called in and asked where the money was going. The radio guy said a portion goes to NFL sponsored charities and the other portion goes to the players’ fund (not sure what this is). I also heard this same thing on espn.

  31. johnaz6312
    November 6, 2010 11:17 am

    This is going to be part of the negotiations for the the new CBA. You just wait & see. The players are starting to speak out and they are not happy with these fines for all this stupid shit. This will be part of the players agenda and ultimatley this could help in a “work stoppage”.

    There are LONG term consequenses because of Goodel’s actions.

  32. sleepgh
    November 8, 2010 10:37 am

    The only thing this is going to do is make the players ask for more money, which will raise ticket prices, therefore costing US. But helping sick kids?