By Chris Gates
I have come to three concrete conclusions so far this NFL season: 1) Officials play too big of a role in games, 2) The league does a horrible job of governing conduct on and off the field, and 3) Roger Goodell has zero consistency in his rulings.
James Harrison was fined $75,000 for a borderline hit on Mohamed Massaquoi of the Cleveland Browns early this season. Since, three players have been fined a combined $75,000 for throwing actual punches during games.
How does this make any sense?
Two weeks ago, Richard Seymour took out his frustration on Roethlisberger. After Roethlisberger threw a touchdown pass to Emmanuel Sanders for a 21-3 lead, Seymour socked him in the jaw. The fine? $25,000.
On Sunday, Andre Johnson of the Houston Texans and Cortland Finnegan of the Tennessee Titans engaged in fisticuffs as well. To be quite honest, Johnson might have given us the closest thing to actual assault on the football field since the Albert Haynesworth foot stomp. The fine? $25,000 each.
So what the league is saying is a player making a tackle, at times out of control of the situation and how his opponent will react, is worse than a player knowingly using malicious force to strike another player in a clear attempt to hurt or injure.
I\’ll never understand this. Harrison was fined $25,000 again yesterday for a hit on Buffalo\’s Ryan Fitzpatrick. The hit drew a flag during the game as Harrison put his helmet in to the chest of Fitzpatrick right after he released the ball. The two fell to the ground.
If we break down the NFL\’s standard on hitting quarterbacks based on precedent, defenders can now only hit below the chest and above the knees. That\’s about a 2- to 3-foot area.
Such wasn\’t the case at the beginning of the season, and it relates back to the three points I stated to start: There is no consistency on rulings or punishment and officials are single handedly changing games with bogus decision making enforced by Goodell.
Not long after Harrison was flagged for his hit on Fitzpatrick — a drive-extending call — the Bills executed a screen pass that went the distance for a touchdown, creating a completely new complexion to the ball game.
All Harrison could do was watch, just like he watched the NFL take $25,000 more from him Tuesday to raise his season total of fines to $125,000 — far more than any other player in the league.
At least he\’s still watching. Harrison already threatened to retire once this season. At some point, I wouldn\’t be surprised to see him walk off the field and call it quits after being flagged. If you were constantly being fined at your job for breaking rules that you were unaware of, you\’d probably quit, too. Right?