National / Sports / October 23, 2008

NFL: Nonsense Fines League

Pittsburgh safety Troy Polamalu recently bemoaned the fact that the NFL is becoming a “pansy” league that is turning into “two-hand touch.”

Polamalu’s comment is in response to recent fines to his Steelers teammate, wide receiver Hines Ward. Ward was fined $5,000 for unnecessary roughness in the Steelers’ Sept. 29th game with the Baltimore Ravens. After the Steelers’ Oct. 5th game, Ward was again fined for unnecessary roughness.

The NFL was considering fining him again this week after a block that shattered the jaw of Cincinnati Bengals’ linebacker Keith Rivers. All three of the plays were plays in which Ward was cleanly blocking a defensive player, and none of the plays in question resulted in penalties on Ward.

Ward has a reputation of being an extremely physical and unrelenting blocker. More often than not, the players playing defense against him hit him just as hard or even harder. But the truth is, Ward is old-school, playing hard until the whistle blows. He does the dirty work that few receivers are willing to do anymore. Just because he is one of a few guys who still blocks and hits hard does not mean they are no longer part of football. Blocking used to be one of the prerequisites for being a great wide out, but now it’s all about speed.

The NFL really is becoming a “pansy” league with the constant showboating of Terrell Owens, Randy Moss, and Chad Johnson. The simple fact is that Ward keeps getting fined because the other wide outs are afraid to hit hard. I think it is only fair for the offense to hit as hard as the defense. Just because most offensive players have become soft and decide to shy away from big hits does not mean it warrants a fine when one of them chooses to hit hard. Hines Ward may be the last complete-package wide out in the game today, and he’s being punished for being a traditional football player. Maybe next the league should start fining running backs like Marion Barber for running over defensive players. Defensive backs do not expect hard hits anymore because it hardly ever happens to them, so they get laid out.

Polamalu is absolutely right; there is nothing wrong with what Ward does.

James Clark

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