Chump change. That’s essentially how much Oakland Raiders defensive lineman Richard Seymour got fined for sucker punching (slapping? Open hand chopping?) Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger.
The league handed down a fine of $25,000 on Seymour, and no suspension. That’s right, $25,000. Steelers’ linebacker James Harrison gets fined more than that for breathing on opposing players.
I’m not a conspiracy theorist. I don’t agree with those who say that the NFL and their officials are targeting the Steelers. But decisions like this help me to better understand why so many Steelers fans do think that the team is being targeted.
If the situation has been reversed, and it had been James Harrison delivering the punch to Jason Campbell or Bruce Gradkowski, how much do you think the fine would have been? $100,000? $150,000? And there probably would have been at least a 1 game suspension added on.
More importantly, if it had been Peyton Manning, Tom Brady, or Drew Brees who got punched, rather than “bad boy” Ben Roethlisberger, does anyone out there believe that the fine would have been a mere $25,000? I certainly don’t.
I’ve even heard some people argue that Big Ben “deserved” to be punched, due to his earlier off-field issues. But that has nothing to do with Ben’s previous problems. Richard Seymour was not dishing out justice for female victims, he was being a thug.
What if you were at work, and one of your co-workers randomly sucker punched you. Wouldn’t you expect him to be suspended? Or fired?
The NFL’s rationale for why Seymour only got a $25,000 fine is that there is a pre-defined scale for fines that are handed out for fighting. The first offense cost $10,000, and the second offense cost $25,000. So Richard Seymour got a $25,000 fine.
The problem is that that scale was put into place BEFORE Roger Goodell decided to start fining players for random acts that don’t even draw flags. With players being fined $50,000 or even $75,000 for hits that occur during the course of the game, it makes $25,000 for a punch that took place outside of game action seem much too low.
Is a punch to a defenseless franchise quarterback less egregious than not being able to defy the laws of physics (which seems to be the requirement these days)? What the league is telling us is that rather than taking the risk of accidentally hitting a quarterback late, James Harrison would be better served to merely walk up to him after the play and punch him in the face; the penalty will be lower.
This is why I was not in favor of the league initiating new rules (and fines) in the middle of the season. I knew that they would not be able to foresee all of the things that could happen during a season. New rules need to be instituted during the off-season. Then teams/players can be educated on the new rules, and referees can be trained in how to interpret the new rules when they make calls on the field. But what we’ve go now is referees who seem to be totally confused, and who are making calls that don’t even make sense.
Is there anyone out there who thinks that the referees’ calls during the Steelers/Raiders game made sense? How did they call a penalty for an illegal “helmet-to-helmet” hit when no helmets even made contact?
I don’t mean to be a whiner. I really don’t. But I love this game far too much to see it destroyed by arbitrary rulings that are made by a handful of individuals.
Hopefully, the NFL will revisit their fine structure, and their rules on what constitutes an “illegal hit”. Right now, players, fans, and referees all seem to be………. confused.
If a $25,000 fine for punching a defenseless player isn’t confusing, then I don’t know what is.
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