Over the past several seasons, the NFL has continuously made efforts to make the game of football safer for its players. Rules have been altered and have been accompanied with harsher penalties and fines for players who break these new rules. As difficult it is for veteran players, mainly on the defensive side of the ball, to adjust to a less violent style of play, it could be more difficult for a rookie.
Pittsburgh Steelers rookie safety Shamarko Thomas said earlier this week that even though he is aware that he could be fined for his aggressive style of play, that he wouldn’t change anything. Thomas, the Steelers’ fourth-round draft pick, admitted that his coaching staff has brought to his attention that he’ll have to adjust to the league’s rules and also have mentioned the consequences for not doing so.
Thomas seems to recognize what could happen if he doesn’t change his way of playing, however, it appears that he’s stuck in his ways. “They’re afraid of the fines,” said Thomas. “I don’t want any fines, either.”
“I’m gonna get some fines, I’m not gonna lie. That’s just how I play. It’s football.”
I understand what Thomas is saying, and I do believe that some of the rules the NFL has, as far as protecting players, are a bit ridiculous. Football is a violent sport that is played at a very high speed and with high intensity. Certain hits that are clearly unintentional shouldn’t be followed with a yellow flag and a fine from the league. That’s what keeps most of these players from playing their very best.
As for Thomas, I do believe that he should continue to play the way that he plays, but he does need to take into account that he could not only hurt his pocketbook with fines, but he could more importantly hurt his team with a penalty in a crucial situation.
Hopefully, veterans like Troy Polamalu and Ryan Clark will help alter his way of thinking on the field so that such an incident won’t come about.
Clyde A. Speller is an NFL writer for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter @ClydeASpeller, or add him to your network on Google+