Troy Polamalu spoke out last week after James Harrison was fined again for his hit on Drew Brees. He said that Roger Goodell had “all the power” and also reverted to his American Government class and talked about needing separation of power. Last month, Polamalu referred to the NFL becoming a “pansy game” and Goodell responded.
Polamalu thinks players should be part of the process in determining fines. I think that’s a bad idea, as there is an inherent conflict of interest in one player assessing another current player’s performance, and I wouldn’t trust a jury that had a vested interest in setting the standards low. I do think the NFL will have to address the fines and suspensions with clear distinctions, or there will be paranoia about where the lines are drawn.
The hit on Austin Collie should not draw a fine, and now, Jason LaCanfora says that it will not. I know people will complain about the flag on the field, but that happened in a split second moment. Believe me, after watching Jeff Triplette’s crew during the Oakland-Kansas City game, the refs can miss calls on plays besides unnecessary roughness. The NFL should be focusing on culpability, not severity. Players are going to get hurt in this game, and the NFL should be focused on the clearly avoidable, grossly negligent hits, or the intentional helmet hits. The hit by Nick Collins on Roy Williams, meanwhile, has resulted in a $50,000 fine. Some, including Jason Whitlock, have questioned whether this one should have been a suspension if the NFL is going to focus on these hits. I thought that the fine on Dunta Robinson bordered more on the severity scale, but these two results (no fine for Collie hit, fine for Collins) show the NFL is following some sort of standard, and it is not haphazard.
Now, does Polamalu have a larger point on Goodell’s power? Maybe, heck, probably. But that needs to be addressed through the player’s union, because they (and the media) were complicit in not challenging Goodell on more consistent standards on the player conduct suspensions. That though, will be a fight for the offseason.