Fines keep stacking up, as the Pittsburgh Steelers set a penalty yards record during Sunday’s football game against the Oakland Raiders. Fourteen flags were thrown against the Steelers, totaling 163 penalty yards.
Fans may be starting to look at the Steelers differently. They have committed personal fouls in each of their last six games.
Fines for helmet to helmet hits are becoming more frequent in the NFL today. Like any other controversy, the issue has two sides. And the side that’s safer usually wins.
James Harrison and Lamar Woodley, two dominant Pittsburgh linebackers, were fined $80,000 and $12,500 this season. Even with these fines, the Steelers defense says they will not stop with these hits. It has been the Steelers’ physicality that allowed them to have the best statistical defense over the last four years.
“If you start letting penalties affect the way we play, we’re not going to be the aggressive team that we’ve always been,” Woodley said in an interview with The San Diego Union-Tribune.
Pittsburgh starting free safety Ryan Clark also voiced his opinion with The San Diego Union-Tribune.
“We know what’s going on around the league now. We have to do our best to play legally, but also to play to the best of our ability,” Clark said. “We’re an aggressive defense, though. We just have to keep playing.”
The Steelers’ defensive players accept the fact that they are getting fined for these hits, but can’t let penalties and fines interfere with their aggressiveness. Pittsburgh’s defense has made a name for themselves, and can’t let up now.
The league sent out an 11 page guide earlier this November to all the NFL players. This guide includes drawings of both the correct and incorrect way of hitting people. It also indicates different rule changes to make the players more aware of what they need to do.
The referees are feeling a lot of pressure with the new rule changes. In such a fast game, they have to judge if the hard hit should be a penalty or not.
Roger Goodell, the commissioner of the NFL, looks closely to the hits. His job is to make the game safer, but also can’t lower the intensity of the game.
“The referees have to be on edge. They’re at the point now where it’s throw the flag first, and figure it out later,” Goodell said. “If we feel like we’re making clean plays, we just have to keep playing that way.”
The Steelers are not the only team with these problems. Other teams around the league are facing the same controversial issue. The problem has risen quickly and abruptly, and the league has been searching for a quick answer to the problem.
Controversy with the Steelers and the NFL continued when Oakland defensive end Richard Seymour intentionally hit Steelers quarterback Ben Rothelisberger last Sunday.
Seymour was ejected from the game, but only with a $25,000 fine. Many people around the league argued that Seymour, who punched Roethlisberger intentionally, should not have been fined less than Harrison, who unintentionally hit a player illegally.
The question is, how does the league dictate the amount of money fined for a player’s action? And there is no easy solution.
Richard Seymour gets ejected. attributes to NFL.COM
By Ryan Mays