The NFL is sending mixed messages for player safety

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The league response to all this is very irritating to me.  They seem to pretty much protect the players by punishing them.  And only respond to issues if they are brought up during Sunday or Monday night football.  After Week 4 last year when several “violent hits” made it all over the highlight reels of the day, the genius analyst and former dirty player Rodney Harrison explained that in his day, being fined for his hits was not a deterrent to him in anyway.  Rodney Harrison, if you remember, was suspended during his career for violating the league’s substance abuse policy for PED’s.  I wonder if that had anything to do with his need to continue to hit players in spite of the smaller fines from back then.  In response to that weekend, the NFL fined players a combined $175,000, with Steelers LB James Harrison drawing the biggest of the fines.

After it being pointed out during last week’s Monday Night Football game between the Rams and Giants that Giants defensive players seemed to be going down with injuries during the Rams attempt at a comeback with a no-huddle offense, the league sent a memo to all teams warning of suspensions and fines if it is determined that players are “faking” injuries in order to stop the game with an injury timeout and not be charged a regular timeout.  How on earth are they going to determine if a player was truly faking an injury?  As much as anyone can argue that the process of faking injuries to stop or slow the tempo of the game is unethical, I don’t see a real way to stop it.  You can’t walk up to a player holding his knee and kick it to see if he’s really hurt. You can’t tell him the day after the game that if he’s walking around he must be fine, therefore he was faking it and now you get to fine him.  And what about the players on the other side of the ball?  Is Tom Brady going to get called up to the principal’s office for flopping on the ground pretending like he got hit in the attempt to get a flag thrown?

You can’t blame the league for wanting to protect their marquee players, it’s a business after all.  But there has to be a balance between fining players for unintentionally dangerous hits, players with potentially dangerous injuries playing throug the pain, and players faking injuries to change the tempo of the game.  It seems as though Goodell is evaluating the policies by watching TV and seeing the reactions of former players that are now playing analyst.  But it just seems wrong to me that the league’s first reaction to everything is to threaten fines or suspensions.  I’m not sure if I have any solutions at this point, seeing as how it’s a violent game and it’s meant to be a violent game.  I’m a Steeler fan and I like defense, I’d rather see a 14-0 shut-out than a 42-38 shoot-out.

The point is, we would rather see the star players playing over their back-ups.  I’ve heard that ticket prices for Sunday’s game in Indy are dropping like crazy most likely due to the fact that the hometown fans aren’t interested in seeing a Colts team play without Peyton Manning, especially given how they’ve played the first 2 games.  The position the Colts are in right now is the last position any team wants to find themselves in.  But, in trying to avoid that, the league can’t get to a point where players are afraid to come out of the game with an injury for fear of criticism or fines.  The league also shouldn’t be glorifying when a player decides to play through potentially dangerous injury while at the same time preaching player safety.

The best part about being a Steeler fan, though is knowing the next guy in line waiting to come in if needed, is not Kerry Collins.

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