Last month, Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Greg Schiano said in a radio interview that he actually wants to see his team take penalties in certain situations and doesn't want to see them rank last in the league in that category.
And that makes some sense, because not all penalties are created equal. Most are painful and frustrating for the culprits and their peers, but some are necessary and even beneficial.
That was the case in the Dallas Cowboys' season-opening victory over the New York Giants, when Cowboys left tackle Tyron Smith saved a pick six by hustling down the field to take Michael Boley down with a horse-collar tackle before Boley got into the end zone.
From his angle, Smith had no choice, and this screen shot of the moment reveals that Boley was very likely to score if not for the illegal tackle.
Head coach Jason Garrett commented on the play Monday (via ESPNDallas.com):
"It's a difference-making play in the ball game, to force an offense to say, 'OK, you don't have a touchdown; you've got to score from the 2-yard line.'
"Our guys stepped up. I thought our run defense was outstanding. We knocked them back on the first play, knocked them back on the next play, forced them into a passing situation, and defended well on third down to hold them to a field goal. None of that happens if Tyron doesn't make that play. So his hustle, his determination, his will, did a great job of carrying over the practice emphasis to the game."
It was probably a game-changing penalty. And now, it's a game-changing fine, too.
The league is docking Smith $15,750 for the dirty play, according to ESPNDallas.com's Calvin Watkins.
So let's do the math. Smith has 52 teammates and the fine was for $15,750. That means that if every other Cowboy were to fork over $302.89, Smith would be left with 28 extra cents to spend on penny candy.
I'd say that's more than fair.
Of course, for tax and legal purposes, they'd have to be a little sly about it. Maybe that's why Smith said today (via David Moore of the Dallas Morning News) that, while he is appealing the fine to the league, he won't be appealing to his teammates to pay up in support. In other words, he'll be taking $15,751 for the team.
"It's all on me," Smith said. "I'm not going to ask. It's a way to help my team out. if you care about the money that much, you're playing for the money. I'm playing because I want to."
Maybe someone's familiar with Stephen Covey's emotional bank account philosophy.