I love Troy Polamalu. Brian Dawkins and Hines Ward, too.
I love the way that these players play the game: In a tough, gritty, and never-stop-fighting, never-start-caring attitude. And in recent years, I have come to see these players as the gods of football. You know why? It's because of what football has morphed into. About a year back, Mr. Polamalu, generally a rather soft-spoken guy, had this to say about the evolution of America's Game:
"I think regarding the evolution of football, it’s becoming more and more flag football, two-hand touch. We’ve really lost the essence of what real American football is about. I think it’s probably all about money. They’re not really concerned about safety. It just loses so much of its essence when it becomes like a pansy game. When you see guys like Dick Butkus, the Ronnie Lotts, the Jack Tatums, these guys really went after people. Now, they couldn’t survive in this type of game. They wouldn’t have enough money. They’d be paying fines all the time and they’d be suspended for a year after they do it two games in a row. It’s kind of ridiculous."
And he is totally right.
The NFL has almost literally got every quarterback out on the field wearing tutus and a skirt. Sooner or later, they could probably send them out there without pads, and they wouldn't have to worry about getting hit because there would be a penalty associated with it.
Ok, maybe I exaggerate slightly. But seriously, the league has made quarterback almost untouchable. You can't go low at them anymore; if a defensive lineman gets pushed into them by an offensive lineman, the defensive lineman gets flagged. Why, it's gone to the level that Tom Brady can tell the ref to throw a flag, and the ref will do it.
And it’s not just quarterbacks; it’s just the idea of roughness as a whole. A couple of weeks back, when Cincinnati played at Baltimore, Ray Lewis was fined for a late-hit on Chad Johnson (ok, fine: Ochocinco). Not only was he fined, but the hit caused his team 15 yards, putting Cincy in position for the winning score.
It wasn't that bad of a hit. Ok, it sent Ochocinco flying, and it sent his helmet flying off his head, but the flag was for a late hit, which it really wasn't. Lewis's momentum was started already, and Lewis probably had no idea that the ball had not been caught by Ochocinco.
Fines like these make me sick. The NFL is taking away from the ruggedness of the game, and has rendered hard-hitting and players who "go for their shots" obsolete, because as soon as they go for that shot, the league slaps them with a fine. And on top of that, the league digs themselves into a bigger hole with the inconsistency of the calls and fines.
Three weeks ago, when the Vikings visited the Steelers, the Vikings started a drive on the ten-yard line. Their first play was a screen pass to Chester Taylor, and about five seconds after Favre threw the pass to Taylor, linebacker Laurence Timmons unnecessarily pushed Favre down in a rough manner. The ref saw it, but didn't call anything. Why?
Last week, when the Redskins faced the Falcons, a sideline scuffle ensued after LaRon Landry had a late hit on a Falcon's runner. The hit caused tempers to flare, and DeAngelo Hall, a player who was not even involved in the hit, got in the middle of the scuffle. Mike Smith, the coach of Atlanta, attempted to shove Williams away, but Williams retaliated with a shove to Smith. The whole situation took several minutes to break apart. Here are the fines that were handed out:
Mike Smith: $15,000. LaRon Landry: $7,500. Albert Haynesworth: $7,500.
Where the hell is DeAngelo Williams on this list? He shoved away a coach. Not even a player. A coach!
The inconsistency of the fines is the last straw for me. If you're gonna make unfair fines, at least you should have some consistency to it. It's ridiculous. Football isn't as nearly fun to watch anymore. Now, whenever there's a big hit, you know that there's almost always a fine on the way.
Football is turning into a pansy game. It's just horrible.