|If the NFL has a fine schedule why were Polamalu and Flacco given different fines for the same offense? (Getty Images/AP)|
Posted by Ryan Wilson
No one, it seems, is immune to the the long arm of the NFL law responsible for handing out punishments to weekly rules-breakers. The latest unlikely target to end up in the league's crosshairs: Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco, who was fined $7,500 for his horse-collar tackle on the Seahawks' David Hawthorne last weekend.
Only knowing this, you might think, "Good. The league doesn't consider quarterbacks, its most prized possession, above the rules."
Sort of. For starters, Flacco gets fewer roughing-the-passer calls than almost every other quarterback in the league. So it's not like he's Tom Brady or Drew Brees when it comes to officials giving him the benefit of the doubt
But then there's this: Flacco's fine was half what the NFL fined Troy Polmalu for his horse-collar tackle on Ravens running back Ricky Williams. And before you note that the league punishes repeat offenders more heavily than first-timers, the Polamalu-on-Williams crime took place in Week 1.
It seems like the NFL is arbitrarily handing out fines. "But the NFL has a fine schedule," you might point out. "One that explicitly lays out how much players can expect to fork over for every infraction."
Well let's take a look. Under the heading "Player Safety Rules and/or Flagrant Personal Foul (including, without limitation)" is the following:
Horse Collar Tackle: $15,000 / $30,000We take this to mean that a first offense will cost you $15,000 and subsequent offenses will cost you $30,000.
So why was Flacco fined $7,500?
A league source tells CBSSports.com that Flacco was a first-time offender, and the minimum fine for first-time offenders is $7,500. While it may have been Polamalu's first fine of the season, he had been fined previously. Flacco had not.
Here are the two penalties:
Polamalu horse-collars Williams during Week 1.
Flacco horse-collars Hawthorne during Week 10.
The story here isn't that one player was fined more than another for the same offense, it's that the league appears to haphazardly assign punishments. We've said it countless times before, but here goes, once more: if the idea is to reduce personal-foul penalties, shouldn't the sanctions be transparent and crystal clear? Because otherwise, no one knows what's deemed legal and what isn't and you end up with situations like, say, this (and this).
Put another way: the league views Flacco's offense to be as egregious as what Browns guard Shawn Lauvao did to Brian Cushing last week. Lauvao was fined $7,500 for head-butting Cushing, which opened up a blood-gushing gash on the Texans linebacker's face.
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