Posted by Josh Katzowitz
With so much talk about the new (old?) NFL rules that will be enforced this weekend regarding helmet to helmet hits and humongous fines and possible suspensions, Ray Anderson – the NFL executive vice president of football operations who’s been ALL OVER the place this week – got one last chance to address the issue.
He spoke with the Cleveland Plain Dealer’s Tony Grossi, and he talked about how the officials need to do a better job of penalizing the hits that are illegal. An example, the no-call on Pittsburgh’s James Harrison's hit on Browns WR Mohamed Massaquoi that had Harrison contemplating retirement after the league took $75,000 out of his pocket.
"Well, you know what, the world is not perfect,” Anderson told Grossi. “As much as we'd like them to be, neither are our officials. That was a missed call. That was a mistake that has cost the individual and the entire group crew a downgrade in our grading system and it may come back to impact where they end up ranking in terms of playoff assignments and bonuses, and everything else.
"Every play, every individual official, every crew, is evaluated on every play that they officiate. And when you miss one like this, you are held accountable. You are downgraded. And you may end up paying for it. So everybody's accountable to make sure, particularly in this area of safety, that we're doing our jobs. We missed on that one, plain and simple.”
I guess now we’ll probably see the officials erring on the side of throwing the penalty flag, because of the threat of losing their plum assignments and money.
So, what does Anderson expect today after all the discussion about what is and what is not an illegal/finable/suspendable offense (though I think many of us are still confused about that)?
“Our expectations are that players will clearly understand, because they're clearly on notice with regards to what we're looking for in terms of protecting these illegal hits to the head,” Anderson said. “So we're hoping we will have zero of them. Certainly that may not be realistic. But we're hoping we have minimal numbers.
“They should expect that the officials will be at a higher level of attention to any hits up around the neck area that may be a violation of our existing rules, and they will be prepared (to) be aggressive in their enforcement on the field just like we will be aggressive in our enforcement internally here.
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