There may be no football on the horizon, but the league has been busy little beavers when it comes to protecting the players it has currently locked out. Yesterday, NFL vice president Adolpho Birch (seriously, you can’t make this stuff up) said the league will punish teams next season if their players have “malice in their heart” (my words, borrowed from Mike Carey, who uttered the phrase in reference to Terrell Suggs).
Specifically: “As a club’s total increases to a certain threshold, we will enforce some … payback to encourage clubs to stay below that threshold,” Birch said. “We’re looking at a system similar to one we instituted a couple years ago with off-field conduct.”
No details are offered, which isn’t a surprise since the NFL seems to pride itself on arbitrarily meting out punishments that don’t correlate with reducing violations. According to ESPN, Birch wouldn’t say which teams from 2010 would have been fined under the new rule had it been in place at the time but it’s not much of a stretch to assume the Steelers would have been front and center. James Harrison was fined $100,000 for playing football, only to have $25,000 refunded months later. Here’s what I wrote in January:
So the league saw fit to return $25,000 to Deebo because … well, I have no idea. Something about Ted Cottrell, former coach-turned-NFL-stooge deciding that Harrison deserved a refund. Meanwhile, Deebo’s hit on McCoy had everything to do with Madison’s subsequent pick, and I look forward to the league issuing a statement later this week explaining why the rescinding the $25,000 refund, presumably because Harrison had malice in his heart, or some such stupidity.
(Hey, another “malice in his heart” reference! I’m nothing if not predictable.)
Anyway: “We’ll check the number of fines and the level of fines going out for infractions that relate to various player safety violations,” Birch said. “Particularly head and helmet issues.”
Deebo, as you might expect, was not amused. Using his Twitter Machine to battle evil, Harrison offered this frank assessment Tuesday:
“I’m absolutely sure now after this last rule change that the people making the rules at the NFL are idiots.”
Just in case that wasn’t already plain as day.
Looking at the bigger picture, this new rule is way down on the list of things to get lathered up about. First, how about we resolve the labor dispute, and then we can climb up on our soapboxes to bemoan how the Man is keeping us down.