NFL commissioner Roger Goodell wants to make sure that the league is a safer place for players, or so he says. That’s all well and good, but it’s beginning to seem that he is willing to risk the integrity of the game for the sake of making himself look like a savior.
A perfect example of the league’s double-talk on player safety is before us right now in the Houston Texans LB Tim Dobbins being fined $30,000 for his so-called “illegal hit” on Chicago Bears QB Jay Cutler.
Before any of you in Chicago start doing Google searches for my address so that you can hunt me down, allow me to amplify my position.
I don’t think that hitting defenseless players should be legal, not on a quarterback or anyone else. But the league has rules in place to protect those players from being injured by such hits. It’s when those rules are applied haphazardly, as in this case, that it begins to bother me.
The truth of the matter is that Cutler was penalized for an illegal forward pass, the referees determining that Cutler’s entire body and the ball had crossed the line of scrimmage. Once that happens, quarterback becomes running back and is allowed to be hit, and per the current rules, a hit on a back running in the open field is not an illegal hit.
In cases like this it has to be one way or the other. If it was truly an illegal hit, then it shouldn’t have been an illegal forward pass…and, vice versa.
The Bears believe that this hit was the cause of a concussion that eventually saw Cutler removed from the game and has put his status for this week’s game against the San Francisco 49ers in question. Forgive me if I don’t shed a tear for the Bears here, but hey, this is football. It’s a violent, collision sport, and injuries are unfortunately going to be a part of the game.
There is no possible way that Dobbins could have known what Cutler’s intentions were. What he saw was a quarterback running with the ball and crossing the line of scrimmage. His job at that point – stop the runner.
If the league is going to start throwing out such exorbitant fines for players simply doing what they are being paid to do, then it might be time to just start sticking pastel colored flags in the back pockets of all the players, and just remove tackling from the game altogether.
“It’s way too high,” Dobbins said. “I’m not a dirty player. I really can’t do anything but appeal it now.”
And appeal it he should. Either his hit was illegal, or the pass was. You can’t have it both ways Mr. Goodell.