The One Big Thing: the NFL a ‘Pansy Game’?

Ross Coleman

Good old NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell is at it again – this time, he is cracking down on big hits in the game.

Wait – big hits? Isn’t football supposed to be one of, if not, the most violent team sport in existence?

Yes, yes it is.

So what gives? Why does Goodell feel the need to fine players for “playing too rough?”
A few weeks back, wide receiver Hines Ward from the Pittsburgh Steelers was fined $15,000 for two separate incidents where Ward made good clean, yet hard, blocks on players down field. Ward was not penalized on either play, yet got fined by the NFL afterwards for playing “too rough.”

Ward measures 6 feet tall and weighs in at a muscular 205 pounds. He is not the biggest guy in the world, yet he has always been known as a great blocker. It is just ridiculous that Ward ends up getting fined for playing “too rough” in such a violent sport.

After these fines, has Ward changed his playing style?

To get an answer, all you have to do is look at USC rookie linebacker Keith Rivers. A week after being fined, Ward layed the lumber so hard to Rivers that the rookie broke his jaw and will now be out for the rest of the season.

The best part is that Ward was not fined for his latest big hit.

Ward has not been the only player to be questionably fined by the NFL this season.
The Minnesota Vikings Jared Allen had to pay $50,000 for hits on quarterbacks that were deemed “too low.” The Carolina Panthers Julius Peppers was fined $10,000 for hitting a quarterback on the head.

So to quote New York Giants Justin Tuck, “You can’t hit him in the head, you can’t hit him below the knees. Obviously, you can’t hit him hard, either.”

Tuck just got out of a $7,500 fine by the NFL. The hit in question was a textbook tackle, nothing malicious, just a solid tackle on a small quarterback.

ESPN radio host Mike Golic, a former defensive lineman in the NFL, had this to say about the Tuck hit: “This has to stop. I understand about protecting people in certain hits and certain situations, but this is a joke. That is a textbook tackle. That is what you teach to little league kids.”

Golic is right. This has become a joke. Steelers’ safety Troy Polamalu took the discussion a step further, saying, “Football just looses so much of its essence when it becomes like a pansy game.”

Pansy game or not, Goodell has to realize that the reason why the NFL is such a great sport is because of the violence. I understand whole-heartedly about protecting players, and I saw that first hand at the Glendale-Allan Hancock game when one player from Glendale broke his fibula and a Hancock player was taken to the hospital for a head injury.

But what Goodell needs to realize is that even clean hits will hurt players. So enough with making the NFL a “pansy game,” just let them play.