NFL Quietly Reducing or Reversing Many Illegal Hit Fines
The NFLPA has been appealing all the fines that have been levied against players for hits. And, quietly, the NFL has been steadily reversing or reducing many of the penalties. To me, this could be one of the biggest stories of the season and a sign that the NFL isn’t quite as confident in its new tact on hit rules as previous assumed.
The NFL has reduced the fines for Atlanta’s Dunta Robinson and New England’s Brandon Meriweather, both cited for flagrant hits against defenseless receivers.
Robinson’s fine was reduced by the league’s appeals officer, Ted Cottrell, from $50,000 to $25,000. Meriweather’s went from $50,000 to $40,000.
Robinson’s hit on Philadelphia wide receiver DeSean Jackson left both with concussions, and Meriweather picked up a 15-yard penalty for unnecessary roughness after hitting Baltimore tight end Todd Heap in the head.
The Steelers have been, by far, are the team with the most issues with the rule and they continue to plead their case to the public as well as NFLPA leader DeMaurice Smith.
It appears the work by Smith and the union earned linebacker James Harrison some measure of satisfaction, although not as much as he would have liked. Thursday, the NFL announced that it had reduced his $75,000 fine, the largest in the league, to $50,000 for his hit Oct. 17 on Cleveland wide receiver Mohamed Massaquoi.
It brings Harrison’s total in four fines this season down to $100,000, and Bill Parise, his agent, has an appeal scheduled Tuesday to reduce the $25,000 fine the NFL levied for a hit Nov. 28 on Buffalo quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick.
The reversals are also important because the NFL does not have independent arbitrators to decide such matters such as is the case with the NBA and MLB. You have to think that at some point the NFL will want to strike the right note here.
As for Smith, he points out that he represents both “the guy who delivered the hit and the guy who received it.” But given the fact that many of these hits have been on defenseless receivers I have to wonder how much fighting the amount of EVERY fine levied is fair. Robinson’s hit on Jackson seemed 50K worth to me, reducing it to 25K further proves the need for the arbitrator and clear rules–not the need for lesser fines.