I’ve been thinking about the $75,000 fine imposed on James Harrison for his hits on two Browns receivers a week ago. Now, I’m all for player safety, and I agree that helmet to helmet shots need to be phased out of the game. Of all people, I understand the long-term effects of a severe concussion. However, I have a problem with the hypocrisy of fining Harrison for his hits and not holding other people accountable as well.
For instance, the offensive coordinator designed a pass route that brought his 190 lb. receiver into the zone of the 260 lb. defensive MVP who is known for his unreal strength (I think he benches nearly 600 lbs.) and nasty disposition. Instead of penalizing Harrison for doing what he’s been trained to do, which is deliver punishment to offensive players who enter his territory, why doesn’t the NFL fine the coordinator for putting his player in harm’s way? Maybe the offense should design pass routes that keep their receivers matched up with defensive backs.
Also, the quarterback who threw the pass should have seen Harrison lurking in that zone. Maybe if his throw had been more accurate, the receiver would’ve had more of an opportunity to protect himself. Shouldn’t the one who threw the bad pass be just as accountable as the one who delivered the blow? If QBs had to pay fines for nearly getting their WRs killed, maybe they would be a little more careful where they put the ball.
My point is this: Football is a brutal sport. Everyone who has ever played the game is aware, or should be, that on any given play, their body could be maimed forever. Defensive guys are by nature a mean-spirited and nasty lot. We enjoy hearing the groans of pain when we smash into an offensive player’s body. That’s what they get for thinking they could get by us. No amount of legislation or enforcement can remove the instinct to inflict pain. For at least 32 years, season after season, the NFL has tilted the rules in favor of the offenses, trying to make more exciting games with more points and more passing. At some point, the league needs to accept that as long as football is a contact sport with pads, there will be serious injuries, including blows to the head.
I’m not saying that helmet to helmet blows should be legal or that players shouldn’t be fined for cheap shots. What I’m saying is that the offense needs to be just as accountable for these hits as the defense. If offensive coordinators and QBs shared in the blame for putting their receivers into prone positions, the defensive guys would have fewer opportunities to deliver these blows, but I guarantee that in the hypocrisy that is the NFL League Office, there will be no attempt to rein in the offensive side of the ball.