There is an old NFL Films clip from a 1978 game which has Kansas City Chiefs Head Coach Marv Levy barking at a referee and labeling him an “over-officious jerk”. When it comes to the ridiculous disciplinary actions and exorbitant fines being levied by the NFL against its players these days, it appears league officials are the ones who have become over-officious jerks.
In the past couple of decades, the NFL has gone overboard in finding more and more creative ways to take money away from their players. From taunting to excessive celebration to censorship to outlawing clean hits, the NFL with its indirect taxation policies, has certainly become the No Fun League. And not only do the new rules get more and more absurd, but so do the ridiculously excessive amounts for player fines.
Of course, the league justifies the new oppressive rules by using lame excuses such as good sportsmanship, professionalism, safety and any other politically correct reasoning they can pull out of their uptight rear ends to justify their actions. The league then explains the excessive monetary fines against the players by pointing to the large salaries which are earned by players. Oh, really? Just because someone earns a high salary it gives you the right to pick their pockets at will?
This NFL has become a league which will fine a player for an incident which may not even be called a penalty at the time. There was a time in professional sports when players were only fined (or suspended) if they had been ejected from games for flagrant violations.
Besides the obvious cash grab, what is behind the NFL coming down so hard on players and even coaches with their arbitrary disciplinary policies? Why are guys like Pittsburgh Steelers WR Antonio Brown getting fined an excessive $10,000 for running into the endzone backwards 20 yards? Is there a rule against that too? Spinning around and seeing who, if anybody, is on your tail has now become a punishable offense?
First off, NFL owners have traditionally been cranky old-boned conservative individuals whose idea of letting loose and having fun probably consists of self-flagellation. They seem to believe that if they actually show any hints of enjoying life, they will be punished for it. So if they cannot have fun, they figure nobody else can have fun.
Does anyone recall former New York Jets DE Mark Gastineau ever getting a taunting penalty while dancing around like a monkey after a sack and taunting the opposition in the early 1980’s? Why didn’t the NFL have a problem with the Gastineau’s antics back then? How long did it take them to implement a no-taunting rule and why? Love him or hate him, Gastineau did bring fans to their feet and added excitement to the game. By contrast, today’s NFL expects young men to play a high intensity game, while displaying less emotion than R2D2.
The final reason why the NFL has swung to this horrid politically correct side is a bit more subtle. The NFL’s hard line against any dissension or originality whatsoever is giving a message to players and fans that such behavior is unacceptable. The message is clear: if you do not conform to our intolerant standards, you will be punished and your privileges will be taken away from you. For whatever reason, most fans buy into this policy without questioning it. And who are the dumbed down fans to question authority anyhow?
The NFL will continue to keep clamping down on any employees who may display too much enthusiasm and dare to question the league’s actions, which are becoming more and more questionable. The league cannot risk having their authority questioned and their policies being exposed as being unjust. Hmmm…now who does that remind you of?
There is another old NFL video clip of referee Ben Dreith calling a roughing penalty in 1986 for what he describes as giving an opposing player “the business”. With the NFL’s policing policies, which have progressively become less and less tolerant and more and more expensive for offenders, it is the NFL who is giving the players the business.