Tag:James Harrison
Posted on: October 24, 2010 9:40 am

Ray Anderson speaks again on illegal hits

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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Posted on: October 23, 2010 7:17 pm

Hines Ward: QBs might have some blame on big hits

Posted by Will Brinson

We talked to Thurman Thomas recently, and he made a funny (but salient) point -- some blame for big hits has to be placed on quarterbacks, especially if they continually hang their receivers out to dry over the middle.

Hines Ward agrees with this theory.

"It's funny, I was talking to [Mohamed] Massaquoi about quarterbacks pregame," Ward said. "I told him it's rough playing with three different quarterbacks. It's especially tough playing with a rookie. If he considers you his go-to guy, he's going to watch you run your route the whole way. That's what happened on that play when [Massaquoi] was hit. [Colt McCoy] followed him with his eyes the whole way. James saw that and knew that pass was coming."

Ward also pointed some blame towards Kevin Kolb on the hit that's knocked DeSean Jackson out for this week's game against the Titans.

"[Dunta Robinson's] quarterback didn't see the cornerback there and led him right into him," Ward said. "What was he supposed to do? He led with his shoulder. That's a good football play. If he tackles him low, he blows out his knees and ends his career. Is that what the league's trying to tell us it wants?"

Of course, Ward didn't put all the blame on the quarterbacks -- he also called the changes "ridiculous" (blame on the league) and told Massaquoi that he need not run through the middle of zone coverage (blame on the receiver).

Ultimately, it is up to the defensive player, because they're the ones making the hits, but there are absolutely steps that offensive players and coaches can take to help prevent their teammates from getting devastated -- you probably just won't see those on Sunday, now that the NFL put everyone on notice, opening up the possibility of dink-and-dunk exploitation of zone coverage throughout the day.

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Posted on: October 22, 2010 11:52 am
Edited on: October 22, 2010 3:07 pm

NFL Week 7 Podcast Preview

Posted by Will Brinson

The NFL's Week 7 might be the most parity filled of the entire season -- there are nine games with a three-point spread, and in case you didn't notice, there have been a lot of close games and there are a lot of teams in contention (more on that later).

Andy and I break down the action with our weekly Friday run-through, asking the big questions, like, will James Harrison retire before he gets to lay wood on the Dolphins? Are the Redskins and Bears respective defenses good enough to carry a pair of clearly flawed offenses? 

Just how uncanny are the quarterback similarities between Philadelphia and Tennessee right now? What the what -- both the Buccaneers and Rams have a shot at being over .500 through seven week? OHMYGOD SEATTLE AND ARIZONA TOO? Can the Chargers beat the Patriots by 25 points like they have the rest of their opponents at home? And will this be the most Favre drama we've ever seen? All that and much, much more.

Hit play below or Subscribe via iTunes.

If you can't view the podcast, click here to download.

Posted on: October 21, 2010 5:53 pm

Givin 'Em the Business: Stupid, Soft Brains

Posted by Will Brinson

Givin Em the Business (yes we were on hiatus, sorry, we're back now) recognizes all the people that annoyed us from the week that was in football. Feel free to provide nominations either in the comments or by yelling at us on Twitter (@CBSSportsNFL) .

Rank Who Why


We like to blame aggressive players or equipment or rules, but you know who's really to blame? The stupid soft brain tissue that sits in all of our skulls. If it was tough, like a real man, then it wouldn't be so easily bruised and hurt and injured and we could just run around all acting like Bill Romanowski and slamming our heads into walls and punching ourselves. Dumb brain.


Brett Favre
Sure, he didn't release the alleged photos of his "Crocs" and he's doing his part to avoid answering questions (which, actually, is kind of irritating), but the fact that Favre has somehow managed to INCREASE the level of attention paid to him since the last time he stormed into Lambeau Field to stab Packers fans in the back with a Viking spear is just flat out amazing. Impressive, really, if it wasn't No. 4.


James Harrison
All due respect to a guy who's a great defender, but come on, bruh, no one's buying this retirement chatter. You get paid $51 million to play freaking football. If that means that a) you need to realize how lucky you are or b) just take it down a notch and not lead with your helmet on every single play, well, so be it -- there ain't anyone else out there willing to give you this kind of cheddar for this kind of work. 


Brandon Meriweather
Hey, Brandon, remember that scene in Good Will Hunting when Robin Williams ends up screaming, "IT'S NOT YOUR FAULT! IT'S NOT YOUR FAULT, WILL!" to Matt Damon? Well, pretend like you're Matt Damon and this is Opposite Day, because THIS IS ALL YOUR FAULT! Alright, that might be a stretch, but if you hadn't gone headbutthunting at Todd Heap, there's a good chance we wouldn't have spent all week demanding that the NFL have some responsibility towards big hits. So thanks for nothing.


NFL Security
It's hard to define exactly how the NFL's investigation into Brett Favre's alleged sending of racy pictures should really progress. But it's not hard to determine that, because Jenn Sterger is the person who allegedly received pictures of Favre's "stuff" and A.J. Daulerio of Deadspin is the person who published pictures of the alleged "stuff," they should be interviewed. Certainly not before the pictures were released, but certainly before Day 25* of the Favre Croc Shot Watch. (*approximate)


Celebration Penalties
It'd be one thing if the NFL had solved the world's problems and completely eliminated the health issues surrounding football and then decided to attack the clear world-killing evils of excessive touchdown celebrations. But the league declared (three years ago) that players would be punished for big hits and instead decided to focus on tagging people for using cell phones in the end zone. To wit: last week, Miles Austin and Roy Williams got tagged for 15 more penalty yards because they used leapfrogs and Texas handsigns than Brandon Meriweather for acting like the Texas mascot on Todd Heap's head.


Jack Del Rio/ESPN
Now, this is about as alleged as anything that involves Brett Favre, but -- allegedly -- ESPN network people asked Jeff Fisher and Jack Del Rio to call timeouts during the Titans blowout of the Jaguars on Monday night. That would be swell and all except that a) it's so corporately creepy and b) it allowed Chris Johnson to break a 35-yard TD run that caused tons of fantasy owners to lose their week. HOW DARE YOU THINK THAT MILLIONS IN ADVERTISING MONEY IS WORTH MORE THAN ME WINNING A WEEK OF FAKE FOOTBALL, ESPN?


JaMarcus Russell
Even though his interview was a great get for Inside the NFL, it's still disappointing to see a guy like Russell be anything other than 100 percent humble in the face of what amounts to possibly the most disappointing career in NFL history. Not to mention his refusal to play anywhere other than the NFL robbed us all from millions of snarky "UFL weigh-in" jokes.


Trade Deadline
Not that anyone got too worked up about the whole deadline business -- after all, only Albert Haynesworth, Vincent Jackson and maybe Willis McGahee were candidates to get dealt -- but there needs to be something in place to make it spicier. The MLB and NBA deadlines are two of the most exciting days in their respective sports and, frankly, look at how much more popular they are than the NBA. But, no, no, seriously, can't we like give picks to people who make crazy trades at the deadline or something? We already had the most insane in-season trading year ever in 2010 and we could've used a little more action, if only to stop talking about Favre's shoes.


Vincent Jackson
Good to see you back, buddy! After all, you only totally hosed your teammates, your front office and anyone who drafted you in fantasy football. But, no, no with Malcom Floyd and Legedu Naanee getting hurt, you're probably not too excited about your bargaining position, right? Ugh. 
Posted on: October 21, 2010 10:23 am

Where does NFL draw line on glorifying hits?

Posted by Andy Benoit
D. Butkus (US Presswire)
The NFL was caught in an embarrassing position Wednesday when league officials had to apologize for its photo vendor (Replay Photos) selling shots of the James Harrison and Brandon Meriweather hits that, hours earlier, had resulted in the two players being heavily fined. Obviously, the league cannot glorify and profit from the very violence that it is so vehemently denouncing.
On this note, let’s raise the question of, Where is the line drawn?

Should the NFL affiliate itself with video games that glorify illegal hits? Or, what about old NFL Films clips of guys like Jack Tatum, Mel Blount or Ronnie Lott laying the wood to defenseless receivers? Those hits were not illegal at the time, but that doesn’t mean they were any less violent.

This is not to imply that the league should stop showing video of those old hits; we’re merely opening a dialogue about whether it should. You could argue that not showing those old clips is, in a way, a form of censorship or rewriting history. But you could also argue that it’s hypocritical for the league to glorify what would now be illegal hits with Sam Spence music and slow motion replay on its own DVD or television special.

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Posted on: October 20, 2010 11:06 am

NFL regrets sale of big hit photos on website

Posted by Will Brinson

Perhaps you recall something yesterday about concussions and big hits? Yeah, it was mentioned briefly, and some people got fined and the NFL vowed to stop the on-the-field vigilantes who were running around and launching themselves into other players.

And then they forgot to get their photo vendors to get rid of all the pictures of those big hits. Replay Photos, an outside photo vendor, had the James Harrison and Brandon Meriweather pictures available for sale.

The problem with that is the access from NFL.com to Replay Photos, as well as the fact that with everything going on, the NFL didn't properly vet the full collection of photos before posting them up.

Greg Aiello, NFL spokesman, issued the following statement on Wednesday morning: "We regret [the] mistake. Those photos will be removed ASAP & we will ensure no photos of illegal plays are available again."

It's what the NFL has to do -- if it continued to profit off the big hits that people love (but which are dangerous) while fining the players who's actions were photographed, the outcry would be insane. And the hypocrisy would be a bit much too -- but it's safe to say that they still have some work to do on the store end of things.

Since, you know, anyone with a credit card can go purchase "Moment of Impact" and go "under the pile with some of the game's roughest customers"! 

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Posted on: October 20, 2010 10:22 am
Edited on: October 20, 2010 10:43 am

Would James Harrison really consider retirement?

Posted by Will Brinson

James Harrison got tattooed with a $75,000 fine for his "illegal" hits on Mohamed Massaquoiand Josh Cribbs. Harrison's fine was bigger than others issues by the NFL because he was a "repeat offender" -- if you believe Harrison's chatter from late Tuesday, he might not have to worry about hitting anyone again.


"I'm going to sit down and have a serious conversation with my coach tomorrow and see if I can actually play by NFL rules and still be effective," Harrison said on Fox Sports Radio with Jody McDonald. "If not, I may have to give up playing football."

That seems like it's probably a stretch -- there have been plenty of people (in plenty of jobs who hated plenty of rules that plenty of employers put in place) who threatened to quit their gigs. 

It's a natural emotional reaction, even though the NFL isn't changing any rules, just bothering to actually enforce them.

But to answer the original question: "No."

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Posted on: October 19, 2010 5:42 pm
Edited on: October 19, 2010 6:04 pm

NFL system for fines is outrageously unfair

Posted by Andy Benoit

Of the three players nailed by the NFL’s financial hammer Tuesday – James Harrison, Dunta Robinson and Brandon Meriweather – one was hit significantly harder than the other two. And no, it wasn’t Harrison, even though his fine of $75,000 was a full $25,000 more than the fines issued to the defensive backs.B. Meriweather (US Presswire)

The player hit the hardest was Meriweather – big time, in fact. Why? Harrison is making $3.55 million in 2010. Robinson is making $5 million this season. Meriweather? He’s making just $550,000 this season (plus a $150,000 workout bonus).

This in mind, Meriweather’s fine was about 10 times more damaging than the other two players’ fines. That’s not right.

The NFL can fix this by changing fines from a flat rate to a percentage a player’s salary. This change is a MUST if the NFL is going to be heavily fining players for safety issue violations. Think about it: Meriweather now has a serious deterrent from delivering an illegal hit. After all, he just lost 10 percent of his 2010 base pay. But what is Robinson’s deterrent? He lost a mere one percent of his base pay.

Perhaps the threat of suspension will be an equalizer and enough of a deterrent. But still, it’s plain unfair that Meriweather takes 10 times the financial ding that Robinson does. And this happens all the time in the NFL. Undrafted rookies are fined the same amount as superstar veterans when it comes to celebration violations, uniform infractions, ill-timed tweets, etc. Essentially, the NFL is using flat tax principles when it could be using progressive tax principles.

Because of front-loaded contracts and signing bonuses, fining players based on their salary in the current year probably wouldn’t work. But the league could base fines around the guaranteed money of a player’s contract. So, instead of simply fining a player $50,000, the league would fine him, say, 0.5 percent of his guaranteed money (or whatever percent is deemed appropriate). To keep with this example, a $50,000 fine would be issued to a player making $10 million guaranteed. The league and NFLPA are already negotiating a new CBA – add this to the agenda.

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The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com