Yes, We’re Going to Talk About Illegal Hits…Again


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I realize that we touched on this a bit with Craig’s Morning Cup of Black and Gold post a couple of days ago, but I think this article warrants some elaboration.

Let’s break this down some. Basically, this guy says that the league’s head officiator says that they won’t hesitate to suspend players for illegal hits this year now that the rules are clear on what constitutes an illegal hit. Now, there’s all kinds of stupid going on in this article, but let’s start here:

"No suspensions were handed down in 2010 even after the NFL’s crackdown on such hits, in part because “we were operating under the principle unless you have given sufficient advance notice of what the results could be, you need to be more lenient,” Anderson said."

Well, leniency is apparently defined by anti-Steelers targeting including upwards of $125,000 in fines to our very own Silverback, James Harrison and other Steelers players. Harrison fought the fines. He met with Goodell and the leagues officials to plead his case, but the fines stuck. What happens when a thuggish Ratbirds defender nearly kills Heath Miller and knocks him completely out of the NFL for two weeks? Nothing. Sure could have used Heath when Spaeth was dropping passes in the end zone to win the game against the Jets.

My point here really isn’t that the rules are unclear. It’s that they simply aren’t enforced on anyone but the Steelers. Sure, there were a couple other people that were fined for flagrant hits last year, but those hits were extreme. (I should point out that the “extreme” hits I am referring to were fined a mere $50,000, a whole $25,000 less than Jame’s top fine) Many of Harrison’s tackles were form-perfect hits, avoiding serious helmet to helmet contact, but still knocking a player out for a play or two. If you recall, Cribbs was on the sideline begging to come back in two plays after James lit him up. Heath was not so lucky.

"The league looks at two years worth of plays to determine repeat offenders."

Get ready for a James Harrison suspension. No way he avoids it if he plays football at all like he plays football next year. It’s really a shame that they would take players like so many of the great linebackers of Steelers’ past and just suspend them for playing the game with a little intensity.

"Rules defining a defenseless player will be expanded and now will include eight categories:• A quarterback in the act of throwing;• A receiver trying to catch a pass;• A runner already in the grasp of tacklers and having his forward progress stopped;• A player fielding a punt or a kickoff;• A kicker or punter during the kick;• A quarterback at any time after change of possession;• A receiver who receives a blind-side block;• A player already on the ground."

This one is a doozy. Some of this is totally understandable. A receiver trying to catch a pass? Yeah, we’ve called that pass interference all along. A runner whose forward progress has already been stopped? Yeah, that’s like Kemo’s bone-head jump-on-the-pile-at-the-end-of-the-play move in SB XLV. I’m cool with that too. A player fielding a punt or a kickoff, A kicker or punter during the kick, A receiver who receives a blind-side block (I believe this is the Hines Ward rule), those are all cool too.

A quarterback in the act of throwing. Now, this one makes me scratch my head a little. So now you can’t hit the quarterback when his arm is in throwing motion? Well, this will be great for Big Ben, that pump fake is vicious! Unfortunately penalties aren’t really called on players who hit Ben. After all, he’s a single guy who has had SEX with a woman. OOOOOOOOOhhhh!

In all seriousness, this is a terrible rule for the game. If I am interpreting this correctly, a player can not hit the quarterback when his arm is in motion. So if Polamalu hits Flacco when his arm is back to pass, and the fumble is recovered for a defensive TD, Polamalu will be suspended and the TD will be negated because the Ravens O line can’t block the Steelers. That seems…well, it’s just ridiculous.

A quarterback any time after change of possession. For many occasions, this is the right rule. Players often use an interception as a chance to drill the opposing quarterback and try and pawn it off as a block. Where this type of hit is often amusing to watch, it’s truly dangerous and totally unnecessary. Most of the time. What happens if the QB is about to make the tackle that will save the TD return? Big Ben did just that in the AFC Championship game against the Colts in 2005. So what if Brady is about to make the saving tackle and then gets drilled? Is that a penalty/suspension?

These new rules leave so many question marks. The NFL saying that the rules are now clear, and the “players and coaches and clubs are very aware of what the emphasis is,” is totally laughable.

Get ready for another roller coaster ride with record breaking penalty yardage, and suspensions to boot. It’s gonna be a head scratching party filled with confusion and bewilderment.