Blog Entry

Tomlin said to be furious about NFL fine on Clark

Posted on: November 9, 2011 10:01 pm
Clark's collision with Dickson resulted in a $40,000 fine. (Getty Images)

Posted by Ryan Wilson

On Tuesday there were reports that Ryan Clark and Ray Lewis could expect fines for their play in Sunday night's Ravens-Steelers game. Wednesday it became a reality; Clark was docked $40,000 and Lewis $20,000.

And not long after the fines were announced, Clark spoke frankly on the matter.

"Somebody else needs to step in ... not that I respected Roger [Goodell] before this ... but this is ridiculous," he said. "I'm not going to sit across from [the Commissioner] unless they handcuff me. which is probably the next step anyway."

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette's Ed Bouchette writes that Steelers head coach "was said to be furious when he learned about the fine from the league office today."

In a statement released by the team, Tomlin called the fine excessive.

"I am a proponent of player safety and the league's pursuit of improvement in this area," he said. "I, like the vast majority of people in this industry, witness daily the steep price that these young men pay to play this game on so many levels. Ryan has my full support if he chooses to appeal this in any way."

Judge for yourself:

Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger also supports Clark and thinks that NFLPA Executive Director DeMaurice Smith should get involved.

"It's unfortunate," he said."You never want to see one of your guys get hit, especially for that much money. I went back and watched it. If you slow down and watch it, it's about as picture-perfect of a tackle you can make. His head was down right across the chest and the back of his helmet maybe grazed the wide receivers bottom of the face mask. Someone needs to stand up and do something -- like De Smith. He is our player guy, stand up and do something for our players."

Reviewing Week 9

Fair point. Smith hasn't been seen since the lockout ended. Maybe that's why, when the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review's Mark Kaboly asked James Harrison Wednesday if De Smith should get involved his response was "Who's that?"

(We're pretty sure that was Harrison being sarcastic.)

But it's not just those in the Steelers organization that think Clark's punishment was exorbitant. Sports Illustrated's Peter King sent the following tweets Wednesday:

"Watched replay of Clark's hit on Dickson 20/25 times. Clark lowers head, aims for chest w/right shoulder. Clips Dickson facemask w/helmet. … This is not the kind of hit to generate a 40k fine. Clark DID hit helmet--but he clearly was aiming lower. Some fine? OK. 40? No way. … 'Fine Clark till he stops.; Stops what? Lowering his head and aiming for a guy's sternum? Bury a guy when he AIMS for head. Clark didn't."

As our colleague Will Brinson wrote earlier, the reason Clark is now out $40,000 wasn't the result of some blindfolded dart-throwing exercise down at league headquarters. It's because the NFL's fine schedule plainly states that the second offense for "Impermissible Use of the Helmet" will run you … $40,000.

The players are well aware of this. They're just apoplectic at the amount. Well, that and the arbitrary nature with with Goodell metes out punishments. Like, say, this.

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Since: Sep 25, 2011
Posted on: November 11, 2011 10:38 am

Tomlin said to be furious about NFL fine on Clark

Being a past DC in High School, I always taught my athletes to "punish" (legally hit) crossing patterns and receivers attempting to catch the ball.  Football, by nature, is a violent sport.  It has always been played with "extreme" tenaciousness.  I totally understand head to head shots, chop blocking, horse collaring, spearing, etc being done away with (as it should). This, however, was not a "cheap" shot....this is the defense playing the way a defense should. 
If the offensive side of the ball wants to throw it....they should be prepared to take a few lumps.  With the good comes the with fire and sometimes you get burned.  Throw the ball and eventually the snot bubbles will fly.  The NFL has begun to make poor judgement calls.  Defense is built on aggression and hegemony....take that away and it is a totally lopsided game.  THIS play is not a $40,000 crime.  Rather an excellent example of how to "attack" an opponent and assure that they hear "footsteps" next time. 
If the league is going to crack down on the defense playing aggressive then the league needs to make offensive formation changes.  Limit the amount of receivers on the field.  Obviously this will never happen....the NFL wants offensive supremacy and weak defensive performances.  It is apparent that the NFL wants high scoring contests and not hard fought "traditional" football contests.  This crap is becoming as Un-American as man bags!

Since: Mar 20, 2008
Posted on: November 11, 2011 10:19 am

Tomlin said to be furious about NFL fine on Clark

Player safety should always be a concern, but this was not a good judgement.  He did what he was supposed to do to make a clean agressive hit.  It's still football, but the NFL office doesnt see it that way anymore.  Im sure it would draw more fines, but, if I were Tomlin, I would show support by having the entire team come out for pre-game warmups on TV wearing flag football belts and flags as a protest.

Since: Aug 16, 2006
Posted on: November 11, 2011 10:17 am

Tomlin said to be furious about NFL fine on Clark

He launched himself at the recievers head with the crown of his helmet and his arms at his side.

I don't think you understand the defination of any part in this sentence.
He didn't launch at the WR, he didn't aim at the WR's head, and he didn't lead with the crown of his helmet.

Launching= leaving both feet, prior to contact, to hit a WR.  (check the still frame shot and notice he still has a foot on the ground)

Aiming at the WR head = Funny, looks more like the sternum, unless the WRs head is in a different spot than mine it would be impossible.

Crown of the helmt = forehead area on to the top of the bad this isn't what he used to hit with.

Since: Mar 29, 2008
Posted on: November 11, 2011 9:55 am

Tomlin said to be furious about NFL fine on Clark

Terrible call during the game, terrible fine.  These guys are going full speed, it was about as perfect hit as you will get.  The fines each week are getting ridiculous.

Since: Aug 9, 2009
Posted on: November 11, 2011 9:27 am

Tomlin said to be furious about NFL fine on Clark

It's okay to be upset Tomlin just don't promise any unleashing hell on the rest of the NFL this time.

Since: Feb 20, 2009
Posted on: November 11, 2011 9:10 am

Tomlin said to be furious about NFL fine on Clark

Must be a Raven are an absolute clown!!

Since: Jun 2, 2009
Posted on: November 11, 2011 8:59 am

Tomlin said to be furious about NFL fine on Clark

Yeah, i agree with you on the ridiculous pass interference calls.  On every single incompletion the WR does his best impersonation of a soccer player.  it really is sickening.

and, by the way, that Ryan Clark hit should not have been a fine.  it shouldn't have even been a penalty, his helmet grazed the WR and his shoulder jarred the ball loose.  These guys are men playing a men's game.  Guys get hurt.  Even the Ray Lewis fine was questionable - he cannot determine where exactly the guy's head is gonig to be.  His job is to tackle people.  The NFL borders on the absurd right now

Since: Mar 18, 2009
Posted on: November 11, 2011 8:14 am

Tomlin said to be furious about NFL fine on Clark

@ Wisky

I am not a Steelers fan, but I am a die-hard football fan.  I have watched the incident about 25 times and with all due respect, Clark's tackle was as close to textbook as one can get.  Firstly, he didn't launch himself (see NFL rules to define 'launching').  The hit was perfectly timed and Clark aimed his right shoulder at the "defenseless receiver's" mid section (by the way, most players do not wrap their arms around an opponent in instances such as this as the hit tends to put unnecessary stress on the rotator cuff).  The rules provide that helemt-to-helmet contact is a punishable act, however, the same rule also does not prohibit incidental contact (without malicious intent).  The contact between Clark's helmet and that of the receiver was clearly incidental, and I do not believe for one second that Clark intended it any other way.  The act itself is not one of absolute liablility (i.e. such as running a red-light, in which case, regardless that your brakes failed, you are still guilty) but rather strict liability, which carries with it a component of due diligence.  I believe Clark was diligent.  Had he not been and approached the receiver with malicious intent, the incident could have been a lot worse.  The contact between the helmets was clearly one of a grazing/glancing nature and not one in which Clark ought to have been penalized/punished to the extent that he was.  The following was pulled from the NFL Rules:

"1. Use of Helmet and Hits to Head. NFL rules provide special protection to
defenseless players, by prohibiting (a) hits delivered to their head or neck area by an
opponent with his helmet (including facemask), forearm, or shoulder, regardless of
whether the defensive player also uses his arms to tackle the defenseless player by
encircling or grasping him, and (b) hits delivered by an opponent with the top/crown
and forehead/”hairline” parts of his helmet against any part of the defenseless player’s
body (i.e., “butting, spearing, or ramming” a defenseless player).
These provisions do not prohibit incidental contact by the mask or helmet in the course
of a conventional tackle on an opponent."

The Pittsburgh coaching staff is not on the field, so one cannot suggest that they are responsible.  To suggest that Pittsburgh's staff actually coaches its players to carry out such things is overstepping what we as fans ought to be commenting on.  Every team has players that generate fines week after week.  However, it seems to only be the Steelers that hit the headlines.  Football is a contact sport and the tackle made by Clark cannot be reduced to a nicety.  For those who have played the game, you know what I'm talking about.  Watching the replay at regular speed may lead you to believe that Clark intended some malice, however, watching it in slow motion gives the viewer more information.  Clark's intent was not as aggregious as one might think.    I am completely behind Ryan Clark, the Steelers and Peter King in this instance.

Since: Aug 5, 2011
Posted on: November 11, 2011 7:14 am

Tomlin said to be furious about NFL fine on Clark

Clark's hit was not a textbook tackle.  He launched himself at the recievers head with the crown of his helmet and his arms at his side.  The Pittsburg coaching staff is the ones who need to be held responsible. Week after week we see steeler players making these illegal hits and then being supported by the coaching staff.  Maybe if Godell starts ripping draft choices away they will get it through their thick sculls that these hits are no longer acceptable in the NFL and start coaching their players to play the game the right way.

Since: Sep 11, 2008
Posted on: November 11, 2011 7:07 am

Tomlin said to be furious about NFL fine on Clark

De Smith doesn't care about your safety there Ben, he only cares about the don't hold your breath.   Are You Ready For Some (flag) Football?

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