NFL Chooses to Take No Action over Le'Ron McClain's Spit

Luke TaylorCorrespondent IINovember 11, 2010

Crowder and McClain meet in more professional circumstances
Crowder and McClain meet in more professional circumstancesGregory Shamus/Getty Images

The NFL Commissioner, Roger Goodell, made the decision yesterday not to take any action over the alleged spit that Baltimore Ravens fullback, Le’Ron McClain, delivered into the face of Miami linebacker, Channing Crowder.

Over the past few weeks, Goodell has earned himself a reputation as quite the disciplinarian, handing out hefty fines to players who have delivered dangerous hits to opponents, but his decision to not act against McClain is based upon a lack of evidence.

However, the video evidence, which surfaced via the South Florida paper, the Sun Sentinel, and their website, seemed to be fairly conclusive to say the least.

This was the same video sent to the league by the Dolphins to investigate Crowder’s claims, and in it, McClain is seen to rear his head back, before moving forward in an apparent spitting motion towards Crowder.

The incident occurred while the two involved themselves in some trash-talking, and the players were helmet-to-helmet at the time.

At first, McClain denied the accusation. However, his stance appeared to change later, as he forgot he previously told the world there was no spit, and said that he may have spat on Crowder, but it was merely an accident.

The video evidence seems to suggest otherwise, with McClain’s movements suggesting he was loading up a mouthful before he delivered it through Crowder’s face-guard.

Commissioner Goodell’s decision will clearly disappoint the Dolphins, but there is a lot more at stake for the NFL.

The NFL’s crackdown on so-called “dirty hits” has been controversial, but is aimed at cutting down injuries in the game. While many argue it has diluted the game, there are very few fans who would not have liked to see some action taken against McClain, arguing that there is no place in the game for spitting.

The video evidence appeared conclusive, so it is a surprise to see no action taken. However, now the Dolphins must forget the incident and move on with their season.

Goodell’s decision certainly sends out a very mixed message to players, fans and coaches of the NFL though. Obvious “big hits” are not accepted; obscured and obscene behavior is not punishable.

My personal preference would be for the NFL to take a much tougher stance on actions as degrading and disgusting as spitting, than to punish those players who deliver heavy hits, often unintentionally.

Spitting in another man’s face is not only cowardly, but also degrading and disgusting. Miami has every right to be angry, particularly after McClain’s plea of innocence was hardly convincing. At face value, an accidental spit in the face, particularly in light of the video evidence, seems an unconvincing argument to say that least.

The NFL has failed the integrity of the game by taking no action.

It is almost impossible to see the actual spit on camera; the head movement, however, is a giveaway. Crowder’s reaction also indicates he was spat upon. It does not take an expert to figure that he was furious at McClain’s actions.

By sending out a message that spitting, even with video evidence, is not punishable, they have sent out the wrong message to children who grow up watching the game, and men who play the game.

McClain may have escaped punishment from the NFL, but this may have simply encouraged the Dolphins to take the law into their own hands when the teams next meet.

Miami captain, Karlos Dansby, told McClain that they would settle the issue like men next time the teams met; or even if they met on the streets.

Ironically, next time the teams meet, it could be a Miami player eventually punished for a “dirty hit” on McClain, while the latter walks away unpunished for spitting in another man’s face.

In contrast to the NFL’s judgment, which drew a line under the incident, Karlos Dansby let the whole world know that “this isn’t over.”