Football’s Disciplinary Policies Need Adjustment

Oregon Daily Emerald
University of Oregon, Eugene

Trying to save money this year as a reckless NFL cornerback? Here’s something you can do to preserve your reputation and bank roll: Spit in another player’s face within view of an official. It’ll only cost you 17 grand – and hey, it’s cheaper than wearing the wrong socks and an illegal visor; just ask Sean Taylor of the Washington Redskins.

On Monday, the NFL fined Taylor $17,000 for spitting on Michael Pittman of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. In doing so, the league made it clear that wearing unsuitable equipment is a bigger breach of sportsmanship than having the brass to spit on another player. $3,000 bigger.

During the regular season, Taylor’s teammate Clinton Portis cut a check for $20,000 for wearing socks that did not match his teammates’, wearing black shoes and for sporting an unapproved helmet visor. Taylor was also fined $5,000 for wearing socks similar to Portis’.

Taylor is lucky he is not missing $100,000 and a playoff game after Saturday’s stunt. The second-year defensive back was rightfully ejected from the Redskins’ wild-card matchup with Tampa Bay, but will suit up Saturday in Seattle.

And why the heck not? He has allegedly only done it a couple of times. Following a Redskins’ home game last year against Cincinnati, Bengals wide receiver T.J. Houshmanzadeh accused

Taylor of spitting in his eye.

The league needs to weed out players like Taylor and try to maintain a more professional atmosphere. Zero tolerance for these actions should be upheld to a point where players are fined more than just their tax return. The player should forfeit at least one game with no exception for the postseason.

Money isn’t the only way the league can get its point across. Former Denver Broncos linebacker Bill Romanowski will always be remembered, not just for his four Super Bowl titles or admitted steroid use, but for spitting on J.J. Stokes’ face in a 1997 game against San Francisco. Romanowski’s ex-teammate Shannon Sharpe called it “the worst thing you can do to a person.”

That loogie cost Romanowski $7,500, but the league didn’t stop there. Officials sent him what they described as a “strongly-worded letter” that moved the veteran of five super bowls to both publicly and privately apologize to Stokes. If you have an idea what kind of a man Romanowski is judging by his demeanor on and off the field, you can understand what an amazingly difficult task this was for him.

In his young career, Taylor is putting forward the wrong foot just as so many before him have done. He has been blessed with great athleticism, but negates it with his penchant for late-hits and lack of discipline. Maybe he should have taken some self-control courses at “the U.”

It’s up to the league to remind players like Taylor that playing in the NFL is a privilege and requires the same classy conduct code you’d be expected to abide by in any professional field.

Taylor was not as big of a loser on Saturday as the NFL was on Monday.