Posted by: mdegeorge | September 21, 2011

Another misfire by the NFL’s disciplinary talking heads (VIDEO)

At some point in the NFL’s illustrious, hegemonic history, MasterCard has been among its many sponsors. That seems fitting right about now, since the league’s backwards policies are looking increasingly like a parody of one of those old MasterCard commercials.

It should read something like this:

Repeat offense for flagrant hit to the head: $40,000

Offense of league’s unofficial rule on faking injuries: a game’s paycheck or more

Grasp on reality: priceless

Roger Goodell’s brain trust in a pair of moves this week has essentially said it cares more about players faking injuries than about those inflicting real injuries.

By the comically lenient penalties on Falcons head-hunting safety Dunta Robinson, the NFL has made it clear that they’re all bark and no bite when it comes to flagrant hits by players not named James Harrison. Robinson, who a year ago was fined for launching into Eagles receiver DeSean Jackson in a collision that left both with concussions, was at it again against Philly Sunday night when he rang Jeremy Maclin’s bell. Maclin luckily ducked the hit, preventing another devastating impact.

Robinson’s fine, as a repeat offender mind you, came out to a whopping $40,000 … less than the $50K he was fined for the Jackson hit (though it was later reduced on appeal to $25,000). Those wanting harsher penalties can rest easy, however, since the fine was accompanied by a harsh letter from Vice President of Football Operations Merton Hanks saying that ““Future offenses will result in an escalation of fines up to and including suspension.” I’m disappointed that the letter didn’t make Robinson sit in the corner to think about what he’s done. Then again, who can expect the league’s disciplinary arm to show some backbone when it’s run by this guy.

Meanwhile, the rest of the sanctimonious, holier-than-thou sports world is up in arms about the Giants defense faking injuries to slow down the St. Louis Rams no-huddle offense Monday night. Video quite clearly shows Giants defenders hitting the ground like soccer players, only without the benefit of a borderline cause.

In response to the talking-heads-driven outrage, the NFL released a statement Wednesday that in typical NFL fashion began with admitting they really don’t know what the hell they’re doing. The NFL reiterated that it does not have a rule in place specifically governing farcical injuries, gave a bunch of excuses why that was the case and then feigned putting on the big boy discipline pants to spew more hollow rhetoric:

Going forward, be advised that should the league office determine that there is reasonable cause, all those suspected of being involved in faking injuries will be summoned promptly to this office in New York to discuss the matter. Those found to be violators will be subject to appropriate disciplinary action for conduct detrimental to the game. Discipline could include fines of coaches, players, and clubs, suspensions or forfeiture of draft choices.

If the league is to be believed, a loaded and dangerous question, than a player causing injury to himself and opposing players ranks on the bottom of the scale of fines, while a first-time offender found faking an injury could have his team fined or lose draft picks. So Dunta Robinson can go around torpedoing players as he pleases, so long as he doesn’t feign injuries as a result.

The NFL, and other leagues, has long failed to grasp the idea that intent and result are different things, too often judging fines based on the result of the play rather than its result. Robinson’s miniscule fine was due in large part to Maclin’s ability to get out of the way of the hit at the last second rather than Robinson’s obvious head-crunching intent.

The intent of Deon Grant and his fellow faux-injured Giants was to stop a play on the field. The intent of Robinson was to injure another player. The fact that the NFL can’t decide which is more severe is utterly asinine.

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