Site Meter

AFC North


Really cool sports communications job openings in the NFL (as of Feb 15, 2012)

As a communications person, I love when I run across jobs I think would be really cool.

Like, for example, “head of communications” for NFL media.

Position Summary:

Based in the NFL’s Culver City office, the Head of Communications for NFL Media will direct and implement communications strategy for NFL Network,, and other NFL digital media.
This executive will be a strategic and proactive communications executive with the capacity to also be a hands-on, sleeves-up team player. This leader will have superior business and communication skills, and will be successful at developing effective relationships with sports, business, and trade media.

Major Responsibilities:

• The Head of Communications, NFL Media will be a critical member of the management team for NFL Network and the Digital Media Group, and will work closely with League public affairs and communication executives to craft messaging, talking points, and positioning for NFL Network,, and other digital media assets.
• This executive will direct publicity efforts for programming, sales and marketing initiatives and serve as a spokesperson on carriage distribution issues.
• He/she will also serve as the lead contact with sports, business and trade media.

Also, the NFL is looking for aDirector of Media Talent. Based on the job description this would be a position in which you get to tell Warren Sapp to tone down his tweets, Michael Irvin to tone down his suits, and Marshall Faulk to tone down his…everything.

Reporting to the Director, Talent & Production Development, the Director of Media Talent is the key position responsible for identifying, recruiting, managing, coaching, training and developing a team of Hosts, Anchors, Analysts and Guests in all aspects of their job including on-air, on-line, image and off-air contributions such as social and multi-media.
• Day-to-day management of Talent while monitoring the performance of each on-air Talent, providing ongoing 1:1 coaching and feedback for all on- and off-air activities.
• Develop on-air Talent and create individual growth plans and strategies focused on specific opportunities, talents and interests aligned with NFL Media needs.
• Identify and recruit top tier on-air Talent candidates.
• Conduct auditions and/or interviews in order to evaluate potential on-air Talent.
• Maintains a strong network and portfolio of on-air talent and strong relationships with agents to deliver appropriate on-air Talent to NFL Media.
• Develop feedback standards across all production units to ensure regular, consistent and honest feedback; tie feedback to ratings analysis with appropriate input from other NFL Media departments (Research, etc.).
• Develop processes to assess and implement cross platform and cross departmental utilization of on-air Talent.
• Supervise and coordinate with outside consultants to assist in the development and scheduling of on-air Talent.
• Work is reviewed from a short- to mid-term perspective and against objectives, budgets and schedules. Translates strategies for talent relations function into short-term objectives for areas of accountability.

The Cleveland Browns are looking for Digital Media Manager. I assume this person will help the Browns engage with the few fans they have left. I kid I kid!



4 Reasons I’m Rooting for a Superbaugh…Harbowl…the Ravens and 49ers in the Super Bowl

If ever I wanted to see two QBs squash my doubts it is the Ravens Joe Flacco and the 49ers Alex Smith pictured above. Smith will face a solid Giants defense.

Neither the Eagles or the Falcons made it to the playoffs (No that’s not a typo. The Falcons showed up to the stadium but that’s about it). So what is a fan with no team in the playoffs left to do? You can sit back and enjoy the games without any pressure or you can ratchet up the experience by rooting for somebody…ANYBODY!

If you’re into the latter (and, I am!) I say the Ravens and 49ers are great teams to root for to make it into the Super bowl. I have 4 specific reasons I am rooting for each of the Harbaugh brothers to take their teams all the way.

The Ravens Are So Relatable 

We all have goals we want to accomplish in a certain time period. We have things we want to do before we’re dead and even before we turn 30 (which if you’re me feels like the same thing). To see Ed Reed accomplish his goal of winning of Super Bowl before retiring would be a treat. There are just some players who are so good you begin to feel like you traveled this journey with them. Ray Lewis is one of those players as well and although he has won a Super Bowl before, it was toward the beginning of his career and with a different crop of players. When you see this current group of Ravens together you buy into Lewis’ sales pitch that they’re brothers. You root for Ray Rice, you root for Terrell Suggs and you root for camaraderie, humility, and hard work. Seeing the Ravens in the Super Bowl would be a triumph of those principles.

The 49ers Have Had a Rough Road

Poor Alex Smith. Poor Vernon Davis. When you see two guys do well when many had previously described them as busts it just makes you a little warm and fuzzy. I’m still not completely confident in Smith-and neither is that offense which accounts for their kicker David Akers’ record-breaking season. But I do realize that he’s been through several coaches and several OCs and there’s still a lot of time left for Smith to grow into a more complete QB if this team remains stable. A Super Bowl visit or win by the 49ers would feed into every great storyline I love: players redeeming themselves, the difference coaching makes, and the importance of great defense. On coaching: Jim Harbaugh might not be able to shake a hand right but that man damn sure knows how to coach a team. On redemption: As a resident of DC, I appreciate that Carlos Rogers is playing like he never heard of the capital. Like he never lived here, never played on the disastrous Skins, never voted or anything otherwise related Washington. Speaking of DC, I’m also glad that now I can say Davis is good for something beyond keeping our club scene hopping with his brother Vontae.



Patriots - Ravens: Looking At The Weaker Side Of The Ball

Did Terrell Suggs actually play against the Texans? I don't remember much from him. But his team will NEED him against the Patriots.

Now that the 49ers, Giants, and Ravens have all won games with great defense we can pull out the “defense wins championships” narrative. And really, we can keep it out unless the Patriots win the Super Bowl and then we’d have to put it away. But as we talk about great defenses-my favorite thing to do-we can’t forget about matchups. And that’s why when I think of Patriots-Ravens, I’m less inclined to say the Ravens will win this one with their defense. I’m more inclined to say that this game will come down to which team’s weaker side of the ball performs better. And in the Ravens’ case it’s their offense and for the Patriots it’s the defense.

I said the same thing about the 49ers and the New Orleans Saints. The 9ers pedestrian offense stepped it up when it mattered and the Saints barely-there D couldn’t get it done. The weaker side of the 49ers righted its ship (temporarily) and they won.

You didn’t really need to catch the Ravens/Texans game today to know that the offense almost blew it for the Ravens. But what you may not know is that it wasn’t just Flacco. It was the receivers and the overall game plan. The Ravens really never got into any sort of rhythm during the game. They didn’t seem to have any “plan of attack” to speak of. The Texans, on the other hand, clearly came in ready to run the ball and get a nice mid-game going on those few times when passing was preferred. I think the rookie QB Yates had a pretty good showing, but the downfield passes weren’t clicking, and that resulted in 3 interceptions (2 by CB Webb and 1 by FS Reed).

The Ravens weren’t able to capitalize the way they should have been able to on those mistakes. They were up by 4 for what seems like forever. Punt punt punt punt punt. That simply won’t work against the Patriots unless the Patriots totally fall apart on offense the way the Packers did against the Giants. And yes, the Giants played well on defense, but 8 drops by 7 different receivers, among other foolishness committed by the Packers, is a horse of a different color. I don’t think the Ravens can depend on the Patriots to make many mistakes that aren’t directly forced by their smothering defense. And that’s why they are going to have to score at regular intervals and not spend an entire quarter not putting points on the board.

Earlier, because the Texans and Ravens were so sloppy, I said whichever team goes on to play the Patriots might be looking at a slaughter. I’ve softened my position…sort of.

The Patriots defense showed a lot of effort against the Broncos but they weren’t “great.” And if they let the Ravens hang around you just never know when Ray Rice will come up with a big play that will win the game for his team. The Broncos were no such threat because not only did they struggle in the passing game, they struggled with what was supposed to be their bread and butter-their run game and rushing by their QB Tim Tebow. In the Patriots game, Tebow struggled mightily (does that sound biblical? It’s not intentional) with reading the option and making the appropriate decision. As inconsistent as Flacco can be, the Patriots can’t rely on him to have difficulty with the basics…and given the fact that Flacco was able to have his offense hang in there against a strong Texans D, there’s no reason to believe that he can’t hang around against the Patriots and give his team a chance.

But damn that Brady sure knows how to get a ball into…well…into wherever he wants it to go.



Ravens-Texans: All Eyes on Flacco Today

If Flacco gets out-Quarterbacked by TJ Yates, me and Terrell Suggs will never forgive him. Neither will his wallet.

This week Joe Flacco got a little ornery with the media. He joked about essentially feeling picked on because in his view, the media only respects guys like Aaron Rodgers and Tom Brady who rarely ever run the ball. So I guess you could say that Flacco is playing with a bit of a chip on his shoulder. He’s also playing for a new contract which was a point of contention between he and the Ravens after last season.

From my perspective, although Flacco is one of the most successful “new” QBs in terms of team wins and playoff appearances, it’s clear that Flacco is up and down not just game to game but also during games. There’s one Flacco that is patient and makes good, quick decisions, and there’s another Flacco that slowly moves through progressions and is sometimes forced to throw (with a slow release) before surveying the entire field.

I’m certainly no fan of the Raven’s offensive coordinator Cam Cameron although from what I’ve seen this year his play calling isn’t quite as disastrous as last year. They’ve made good use of Ray Rice who is about as versatile a back you could ever dream about. And Torrey Smith has great chemistry with Flacco (including anticipating ill-placed balls) pretty much erasing any doubts about the team’s decision to release TJ Hous, Derrick Mason and Donte Stallworth. And Flacco, to his credit, has been less jittery and has been recovering well from bad series.

That makes me feel pretty good about the Ravens getting a win over the Texans who, for all they try to mix it up in the passing game, are fairly one-note. They’re also heavily dependent on one really really good running back who has an upright running style and should absorb some serious blows today with the way Suggs and company have been playing up front. On defense, the Texans are solid but Flacco’s Ravens are 9-1 this season against top 10 defenses. I will be curious to see if the Texans can get to Flacco early and often. If so…well… so yeah, again, all eyes will be on Flacco. Well, all MY eyes anyway.

Speaking of Suggs and the Ravens defense, their camaraderie is always impressive but this year it’s been particularly touching. Maybe because Lewis and Reed are right at the end of their careers. Or maybe it’s because Pollard seems to have finally found a home and Webb is coming into his own. Not to mention that Suggs play has rivaled the 49ers Justin Smith. But listening to the guys talk all this week about how meaningful it would be for all of them to win together with this group, a loss today would leave a big gaping hole in this unit. It would be a HUGE missed opportunity.

It would also ruin my much-anticipated Harbaugh Super Bowl!






How One Reporter Trolled the Baltimore Ravens By Suggesting Ray Lewis and Ed Reed Be Benched

I slightly criticized Ed Reed in this post but YOU BETTER NOT DARE.

In most parts of the country, a team in the midst of a playoff bye week and headed toward home field advantage wouldn’t be facing questions about whether two of its super star players should sit. But thanks to the often controversial Baltimore Sun reporter Mike Preston, the Ravens have been dealing with questions about ILB Ray Lewis and FS Ed Reed’s fitness to play. The question about the question is whether the question is even a valid one. My take: Congratulations Ravens,  you’ve been trolled.

I wrote myself a note to watch more of the Ravens during the off season on NFL game rewind so that I can form a more complete opinion on Lewis and Reed’s contributions (assuming both Lewis and Reed do not retire at the end of the season making such a project lose its value). But I have seen quite a few Ravens games this year and two things are apparent: Lewis lacks his previous balance of being valuable against both the pass and the run, and Reed is certainly playing more cautiously, something that he admitted when he submitted to an interview with ESPN during the lockout. It doesn’t take a football guru to make these two observations.

The issue for me is twofold: 1. Are we judging Lewis and Reed by comparing them to their former selves rather than comparing them to the rest of the talent in the league and on their team? 2. Are Lewis and Reed held to a higher standard even when injured than we hold other players to?

I think the answer is yes and yes. And that’s why I think Preston trolled the Ravens with this:

But here’s the problem: The team’s two potential Hall of Famers, middle linebacker Ray Lewis and safety Ed Reed, haven’t played well, and the Ravens haven’t addressed the issue. It’s time.  You can’t hide them any longer. They’re still playing well enough for the Ravens to win most of their games, but are playing poorly enough where they might cost them deep into the postseason… Harbaugh knows it. He watches film. As the players say, “the eye in the sky doesn’t lie.”

…But on the sidelines Sunday, players privately questioned why Reed wasn’t pulled after whiffing on a tackle. The Ravens have safeties-in-waiting in Tom Zbikowski, but neither has the experience to call the plays on the back end like Reed, or can cover as much ground.

This is trolling for a number of reasons. Preston says that Lewis and Reed are playing well enough for the Ravens to win most of their games-which I believe is the goal of most players-but then goes on to say they’re playing bad enough to be a liability in the same games that they’ve helped their team get to. This sounds like a set up to blame Lewis and Reed if the Ravens don’t make or win the Super Bowl. A sad thing to do given the team’s up and down rollercoaster offense, and the fact that Football Outsiders has the Ravens defense ranked #1. Preston says Harbaugh should “talk” to Reed and Lewis but is his argument that they aren’t playing well cause they’re not trying or because they can’t cause they’re old and and in Reed’s case fragile? Finally, all players that don’t get to play question why the players that play get to play-so don’t try to play me with that playa.

For the record, there are teams with strong defenses that have 2 or 3 weak links that aren’t benched cause they’re still better than the options behind them. In those cases reporters covering those teams typically point out  and lament those players’ failings but leave the benching talk in their computer’s trash bin where it belongs.

That’s why these next two quotes are telling. Trolls typically:  1. negate their own point and 2. have a personal gripe. And Preston goes:

But it’s difficult watching Lewis play on Sundays. He is a victim of his own success, having set standards so high that even he can no longer reach them. He is still one of the better linebackers in the league, but not the Lewis that used to destroy running backs, and take away a team’s desire to play against him.

That covers 1…

I’ve had my share of fights with Reed, and at times he has gone over the line and made it personal. But I’ve never questioned his respect and love of the game, or his love for his fellow man.

And there’s 2…

And this article is why athletes have so many gripes with the press. It’s one thing to write an article on what you’d like to see Lewis and Reed do better and to point out where they’ve failed and question whether or not they could play better, it’s entirely different to suggest they be benched for having an age-altered style of play that at this particular point in time isn’t a real issue-or else their team would NOT be making a Super Bowl run. It’s not uncommon for smart teams to integrate aging players with younger ones which the Ravens appear to be doing successfully. The time to decrease Lewis and Reed’s play (or move them to 2nd string altogether) would be next year not right now. Preston knows this, points it out in his article, and then goes onto ignore the fact, yet another characteristic of trolling.

When I initially sat down to address this my headline was going to be “Criticism of Lewis and Reed’s play heats up in Baltimore” but upon further examination I realized that that would legitimize Preston’s column in a way that it didn’t deserve. And, in a way, that Lewis and Reed don’t deserve. For the record, as an Eagles and Falcons fan I’d welcome-with open bird wings-Lewis or Reed to play for either team TODAY. You haven’t seen whiffing on tackles until you’ve seen the Eagles defense play. Preston would bench the whole team.

Again, Lewis and Reed are not playing the way they used to. And in Reed’s case that might be a good thing.

Reed is my favorite safety of all time behind Darren Sharper. The reason I put Sharper over Reed is that Reed has traditionally, in my opinion, hung his corners out to dry a bit and negated the ability of OTHER guys on the team to make plays. Not a lot of sharing going on on Reed’s watch. It’s a perk of playing the ball like a mad man. It becomes your world. I remember safety Dawan Landry saying that when he was with the Ravens he just went wherever Reed told him to go. Ultimately Reed has been and should be rewarded for it all because he’s been right so much when he cheats up or baits the QB.

But now that he’s backed off the ball to lessen the frequency of contact a bit we get to see guys like Webb get 5 of those fancy interceptions Reed used to love so much (and that Preston keeps “waiting” for him to make). And to my mind it’s not a bad thing, especially with the new rules limiting the way that corners not named Darrelle Revis get to play. They need pass support from their free safety, and they need a little practice in learning when to hop a route. Something that, when Reed’s play was dramatically elevated, there was no opportunity to do because they were often the last line of defense against the pass especially with the Ravens often treating the strong safety like a disposable puzzle piece.

Just a reminder, these were the same kinds of arguments people made about Brian Dawkins that allowed the Eagles to get rid of him without much blowback. And now the Broncos have a strong defense that is headed to the playoffs in large part because of his play. Play that, like Lewis and Reed, is a step below the way he used to be but still heads and tails above many.

Oh yeah where was I?



Last Time Steelers Ryan Clark Played in Denver He Lost A Spleen, Gallbladder and 30lbs

Steelers Safety Ryan Clark, a man whom I do not know and therefore was unfortunately not able to slap this week.

I’m just going to repeat the headline.

The last time Pittsburgh Steelers Safety Ryan Clark played in Denver he lost his spleen, gallbladder and 30lbs. He could have lost his life. I swear I’m not making this up. Clark has sickle cell trait-which I also have-something that really doesn’t bother most people who don’t hurl themselves into other people at extremely high altitudes.

Now here’s the part where I become a big old girl.

All week I could not figure out why there was a discussion about whether or not Clark would play or not. Some things just don’t bear discussion. Given what happened last time he played in Denver it seemed obvious to me that he would not play. I realize players want to be tough, but I also realize there is a really thick bright red line between “tough” and “stupid” and the Steelers would have played double dutch back and forth across that line by letting Clark even suit up. I don’t even think he should travel with the team much less play.

The other thing that’s a non-factor for me is that it’s a playoff game. If the Steelers defense can’t stop the Broncos’ barely-there offense without Ryan Clark their chances of going deep into the playoffs probably aren’t very good. No need for Clark to risk his life for a one game playoff push.

And while we’re on the subject of the Steelers, they were also unwise to allow Ben Roethlisberger to play with a high ankle sprain. There was one series in the game against the 49ers where Big Ben was sacked on every single snap. And Troy Polamalu who has been diagnosed with several concussions during the course of his career and two this season simply doesn’t seem himself as of late but continues to force his way into games despite continued concussion-like symptoms. So I don’t know why I was surprised to hear that Clark was willing to play but that Tomlin made the ultimate call. Unless there are some strange politics I don’t know about that called for the team to pretend Clark playing was ever on the table, I think a strong argument could be made that the Pittsburgh Steelers might not be the brainiest organization in the NFL.

I’m glad that Clark will sit but the fact that there was any doubt he wouldn’t after what happened last time kind of makes it hard to believe players and teams can be trusted to report concussions and other longterm impact problems. The NFL will continue to have its hands full when it comes to getting teams to make safety a priority.




Ray Lewis: Ngata Extension Makes Me Want to Play Longer

Baltimore Ravens Ray Lewis

15 year League veteran Baltimore Ravens Ray Lewis Looking Spry As Ever.

Already in the league 34 years, Baltimore Ravens Ray Lewis says the signing of Nose Tackle Haloti Ngata to a long term (5 year 61 million!) deal makes him want to play longer for the Ravens. I don’t know how much “longer” is but let’s look at some long careers shall we?

New Orleans Saints Kicker John Kasay has currently been in the league 21 years. Kicker is not such a dangerous position though so that’s either amazing or not-so-amazing. Can’t really say. But 21 years is a long time to do any one thing if you ask me. Even kicking with the way they get fired at the drop of a dime (or bad kick). So for this year Kasay is a strong 5 for 5.

I believe George Blanda still holds the record for longest NFL career at 26 years. He was both a quarterback AND a placekicker. My how the league has changed, can you see Tom Brady kicking one in?

Many offensive lineman last 12 years or more. But not many linebackers make it past that 10 year mark for reasons I think are pretty obvious. When one group of researchers looked at player longevity they, of course, found a strong correlation between position and longevity.

For the 2008 NFL season, 39 percent of the 2004 Combine players were still active. For 1,889 players listed on 32 NFL team rosters, the average longevity was 4.6 years, with only 7 percent of players having experience in the league beyond 10 years. Four of five players with the greatest longevity (>18 yr) were punters or kickers (the other, a rare quarterback).

From these data, the research team discovered orthopedic or health-related factors were not as relevant in predicting longevity. The more prominent factor was where on the field these athletes played.

Specifically, the injuries associated with position showed the strongest link to overall career longevity. Injury locations and diagnoses were shaped by position; for example, offensive lineman had more back and neck injuries while linebackers experienced more shoulder injuries. Most injuries were at the shoulder and knee, with the lower back, neck, foot and ankle also common sites of players’ injury history. Tears were the most common type of injury, followed by dislocations, trauma, fractures and sprains.

With the way Lewis plays, you have to wonder if it’s one of those “Death Becomes Her” situations where Lewis has some serum that keeps him forever young and virile. Something is going on here and I want answers (so I can copy the paper)! I think one thing that worries me about Lewis is that I fear he may be one of those guys that is strong as long as he’s playing and begins to deteriorate pretty quickly the minute he’s done. I hope that’s not the case, I know he keeps one of the toughest off season workout regimens there is and I’m hopeful that we have this big guy around for a long time. Can you imagine his Hall of Fame speech?

In case you’re wondering just how productive Lewis has been, Advanced NFL Stats took a look recently.

The graph is plotted on 2 different axes. The red line is +EPA/G and the green line is SC/G, both of which are plotted with the primary (left) vertical axis. The blue line is +WPA/G and is plotted on the secondary (right) axis.

If the graph ended at 2005, you’d think that Lewis was in the twilight of his career, but he’s been making plays at a very high level since. He peaked somewhere between ’01 and ’03, but there’s been no lasting decline to speak of.

I think this graph probably speaks to Lewis’ comment about Ngata. The stronger the players around him, the better he is able to do his job. He’s not a young guy that can clean up problems for other guys anymore. In order to perform at a high level he needs others to know and perform their jobs well (I think this really applies to any job!).  And as long as he surrounded by talent, there’s probably a starting spot for him on the Ravens roster for the next couple years.

And seriously, how crazy is it to have your dad play football in the NFL while YOU’RE playing in high school.



Steelers Troy Polamalu Signs Brand New Contract in the Airport

Steelers safety Troy Polamalu signs contract in Pittsburgh airport on the way to play Baltimore Ravens

Troy Polamalu became latest big name player to sign bigger contract

NFL owners continue to make it rain on their best players-wait…are we still saying make it rain or did that go out of style when Bryant Gumbel said it to Pacman Jones? Oh well whatever. Lots of money being thrown around this week. Now, Pittsburgh Steelers Safety Troy Polamalu and his gorgeous flowing locks are getting their jackpot.

Polamalu’s contract is “expected” to average out to a little more than 9 million dollars per season, but the ink isn’t dry yet so the details haven’t been announced. I’ll update this post when I have more information and a strong opinion on it. For now, enjoy this photo the Steelers posted of Polamalu in the airport making the new terms official as they head out to play their fiercest rival, the Baltimore Ravens IN Baltimore today.








Brian Urlacher Says Soldier Field is a Disaster and Other Quotes From This Week

Brian Urlacher Says Soldier Field is a Disaster

It’s no secret that the Chicago Bears’ Soldier Field isin’t in good shape. You can even see how bad it is when watching on television as players dive into play action pieces of the field fly everywhere. Every now and then broadcast cameras will linger on a hole. But it’s still not often that you hear players talk about the field candidly.

“A disaster,” Urlacher said. “We complain about it all the time. I don’t know what’s wrong with our field. Every week they’ve resodded it. They had a soccer game there, or they had nine high school games in two days. It’s always something.

Ed Reed Says He will NOT have surgery on his neck.

“I don’t want to be like these guys having neck surgery, then you got to go have another surgery just to continue to play this game,” Reed told ESPN. “I love this game but I love myself more.”

Always tough to see such a great and consistent player suffer through injury. Ed Reed missed 8 games and still led the league in interceptions upon return.

Roger Goodell and DeMaurice Smith continue to take the battle rhetoric all the way down. They even appeared together in some show of symbolism however belated. I mean at this point we’re all burnt out on the lockout, and since it’s almost July, it’s kind of hard to get excited about rumors of a deal being done soon. But anyway, here’s your obligatory lockout update.

“Someone asked me whether I was optimist,” Smith said. “I think we’re both optimistic when we have the right people in the room. We know we’re talking about the right issues. And we’re working hard to get it done. It’s extremely complicated, it requires a lot of hard work by all the people, but we’re going to keep working at it.”

Falcons Wide Receiver Roddy White expressed a lot of confidence in the Falcons offense.

“He’s real coachable and he’s learning everyday,” White said of Jones during an interview with NFL Network. “[Our offense is] going to be special. It’s going to remind you of the Greatest Show on Turf. We’ve got a lot of explosive players and I see a lot more explosive plays coming out of our offense.”

I wasn’t a huge fan of the Falcons picking up Julio Jones when their defense is so sorely lacking. However, there is an argument to be made that Matt Ryan and Julio Jones could be one of the great QB/WR tandems of the future if he pans out the way the Falcons hope.

Still, they gave up a lot. And passed on Prince Amukamara the CB that went to the Giants already-stacked defense.




Steelers James Harrison Says NFL’s Hit Rules are Unclear Even To Referees

A smiling Pittsburgh Steelers Linebacker James Harrison

When a player sets up a blog SPECIFICALLY to air out thoughts on ONE issue you know they are FRUSTRATED. Last time this happened, Steelers Running Back Rashard Mendenhall set up a blog clarify his comments on 9/11. Well Mendenhall’s teammate James Harrison has followed suit. Harrison was very clear about his dissatisfaction with the NFL’s hit rules and their strategy of enforcement during the season, and he has not cooled off.

Harrison writes:

Now you have to wait until a guy catches, or even worse, you have to let them catch the ball before you can even attempt to tackle him.  Along with that, you cannot let any part of your helmet or facemask touch any part of them basically from the chest up. If you are following the letter of the rules exactly, now most tackles, if not ALL tackles can be flagged, fined and/or result in ejection from that game, or future game(s).

I understand the intent behind making the rules, but in their attempt to make the game safer, they are actually clouding what is allowable.  Even the referees are confused.  A close look will show you that the referees were calling things that were not even supposed to be called, and NOT calling things that were actually illegal.

Quickly, the background on this blog post is that Harrison called the NFL leadership “idiots” and said the Steelers were being targeted which caused a backlash in the media (as usual). This prompted Harrison to try to do a little damage control. Don’t think this blog post does much in that arena, but this is James Harrison, I don’t expect him to back completely down from what he said.

ESPECIALLY since he seems to say in his post that he has lost respect for Roger Goodell and other NFL leadership such as Ray Anderson, VP of Football Operations, and Merton Hanks the former safety who now has a role in operations that I don’t quite understand to be honest.

Back in January, I wrote about how the NFL was quietly reducing fines that had been doled out for hits. Harrison, himself, had a fine reduced from $75K to 50K. I said then that these sorts of reductions prove the NFL is unsure of it’s own rules. Add that to the fact that is no independent arbiter and you have somewhat of a mess.

Harrison says in his blog post that he thinks there is more to the rules than player safety-I agree, and I would say that “more” is the need for the NFL to appear to care about players. With former players dropping dead left and right and the amount of bodies strewn about at the end of the season, the NFL is lucky to have avoided a full-on PR crisis.

That being said, as I argued before, I think that players like Harrison are better off touting that they will do their best to understand and follow the rules, and when they are called for a hit they believe is unjust, calmly explain why, have their agent appeal and move on with life. “If” the NFL is just keeping the rules for appearances, it might behoove guys like Harrison to play along with the act. After all, the NFL’s image includes the players as much as they may feel disconnected from its leadership.

Just a note, the Steelers were not the primary recipient of NFL hit fines last season, and when I find the breakdown (again) I’ll update this post.

Never thought I’d say this but Warren Sapp summed it up best.

“We took care of each other,” said Sapp, “and that’s what this is all about — taking care of the game, taking care of each other. And if James Harrison and LaMarr Woodley don’t see this, then maybe they need to leave the game. Because the game’s gonna be here a long time after you, and it’s been here a long time before you. So either get on the train or get off.”

Finally, very brief synopsis of the rules approved last week. The rules don’t seem so unclear; however, I will say this. I’d like to hear a player articulate how these rules feel in motion. I do understand momentum arguments but they could be explained better, especially in the context of looking for a legit tackle RATHER than a hit.



Find a player or team



Switch to our mobile site