The sports world’s focus this week was on the NFL’s crackdown on the hits of defenseless players. There were a lot of these hits last weekend. There seemed to be more than usual, but I would like to see some numbers on that from the league.
Everyone seemed to have an opinion on this flagrant hit crackdown, including the Cleveland Browns Center, Alex Mack. Sorry your team is so bad that you have to say that Harrison is taking cheap shots on your teammates the whole game. It’s called football. Win more than 5 games some year and we’ll think about listening to you. You also forgot to mention that your defenseless untalented teammates are holding Harrison on every down and the refs won’t call it on one play because they’d have to call it on most of the other plays too. So, that pretty much makes any Cleveland Browns argument moot.
James Harrison, Brandon Merriweather, and Dunta Robinson were a few of the higher profile, higher fined players from last Sunday. Harrison, the Defensive player of the year 2 years ago because of hits like he doled out last Sunday is now the villain because of those same hits. A Pittsburgh radio station pointed out a bit of an embarrassing point to the No Fun League this week when they found the NFL was selling pictures of the Massaquoi hit on a website. Mr. Harrison you are hereby fined and required to give us $75,000, and by the way, we’ll also be making thousands more selling that picture on our website. The NFL abruptly pulled the picture from the site. Oops! Is it possible for James Harrison to fine the NFL? Probably not.
When the NFL came up with the new rule before the season that you couldn’t hit the defenseless receiver this raised a big red flag for me as a Steelers fanatic. I was just watching a tribute to Jack Lambert on YouTube. Put those words in the YouTube search engine and you’ll find it. It is awesome. I crack up every time Lambert body slams Cliff Harris into the ground. My point is this is the persona of the Steelers. If you think of the Pittsburgh Steelers you think of Defense and the Steel Curtain and all the players over the years that have created that persona; Jack Lambert, Jack Ham, MEAN Joe Greene, Greg Lloyd, Rod Woodson, James Harrison, and Ryan Clark. I know, I left out a lot of names, but these are just a few that came to my head. These guys are the identity of the Steelers. This team is known for Defense and hard hitting. If you take that you’re taking away the identity of the Steelers. This is really what I thought of and feared happening when the league came up with yet another penalty to protect the offensive player.
After the first few weeks of this season, I thought maybe these new rules wouldn’t affect the game that much. Give the offenses another break, let the receivers catch the ball and give them a step before planting them into the ground. That was before last week and the James Harrison show. Harrison is not the only player to make these types of hits. I can think of 2 Ryan Clark hits, one on Willis McGahee and one on Wes Welker that probably would have earned some attention if these rules had been in place. Maybe the NFL should concentrate a little harder on finding equipment that would protect its investment and its players. Maybe it could update its helmets to provide more protection. Or is their helmet company paying them too much money.
This is Tackle Football not Flag Football. Before long the NFL may be changing its name to the NFFL. Unfortunately that would spell the end of the Pittsburgh Steelers. They may play in the NFFL, but their identity is the NFL. No, Mr. Rooney would disband the team before letting them be embarrassed to that point.