Ndamukong Suh was fined $15,000 for a hit that was legal in the NFL we all grew up watching. Jay Cutler, the quarterback for the Chicago Bears, was in-bounds, there were no illegal body parts used and no blows to the head.
Granted this hit was extremely violent. In a previous article I wrote that the hit was "like a meteor shooting millions of miles through space, plummeting to earth at immeasurable speeds and slamming into a puppy." But Cutler is not a puppy, he just played one on TV.
Cutler is a football player, albeit a quarterback, who cut back on to the field of play to pick up extra yards and a possible first down when, in the immortal words of ESPN football analyst Tom Jackson, he got JACKED UP!
Are they criminalizing JACKING people UP in the NFL?
Are you not allowed to JACK UP anyone or are quarterbacks a special case, again?
Are 305 pound defensive tackles suppose to monitor and regulate how hard they hit people while they are running full speed half way across the field in pursuit?
Commissioner Goodell said that they were going to "change the culture" of the sport. OK, change it to what?
Are there not going to be young men, brimming with testosterone, who busted there butts there whole lives to become these physical marvels with extremely bad intentions?
Are they no longer going work themselves into a frenzy and then proceed to take out every frustration they ever had on the guys on the other side of the ball, just because they are wearing a different color?
Isn't that the brand organized mayhem that we all tune in to see?
Is the NFL really concerned about it's players or is there more to it than that?
There's a part of the game that the fans don't see. The part that no 20-year-old, with high levels of testosterone coursing through his veins and dreams of playing in the NFL believes can ever happen to him.
Fans never see the young man with the walker, the "altered" thought process and the disability check from the NFL. He uses the walker to hold himself up when the intermittent paralysis in his legs hits him.
His thoughts are altered by the blow he took to the head, the constant migraine headaches, and the pain killers he's been addicted to since his playing days.
He's not the star player, but the guy you never heard of that was injured, then carted off the field during a commercial break, and you never saw him again. There are literally hundreds of these guys and the NFL is supporting all of them.
We never think about these guys when we tune in to get our winter weekly fix of legalized violence on Sunday afternoons. We only think about the week Michael Vick couldn't throw to DeSean Jackson because somebody knocked Jackson out.
We'd like to think we care about Jackson, but we are desensitized because we saw the hit that did Jackson 83 times on replay and 47 more times on the highlight show along with 75 other bone crushing hits.
The NFL is in a quandary. There are the guys who make money, the great players that we all tune in to see. If they are hurt, the fan experience is altered and nobody wants that.
Then there are the guys like Eric Shelton who the NFL pays $9,167 a month, which is approx. $110,000 annually, and he never played a down.
Shelton was drafted in the second round by Carolina and then signed a contract with the Redskins. He was disabled by a helmet-to-helmet blow during an intrasquad scrimmage.
Shelton is currently suing the NFL because he would like to be placed on the highest level of disability which would pay him $18,670 a month or close to $225,000 a year. Who knows how many shattered NFL dreams the NFL has to pony up for.
Cutting down on the amount of injuries is a business decision because injured players cost the NFL money. The message the commissioner is sending by fining Suh is that he is changing our game because it is too expensive to continue playing it in the traditional fashion.
I do not suggest that we turn a blind eye to Shelton and his ilk. Changes must be made to protect these warriors who put their lives on the line to entertain us. The overwhelming majority get no glory and fame. They get to be in pain for the rest of their lives.
Twenty year old college football players with NFL aspirations believe they'll be ten feet tall and bulletproof in 30 years, they won't. This just in, "Football is bad for you."
Changes definitely need to be made, but not by punishing players for doing what they learned to do their whole lives. Suh did everything right according to the rules and it cost his team the game and cost him 15 large.
When the game is changed in the middle of a season with no retraining and no setting of expectations—the culture is not changed, it's just muddled.
Perhaps next time Suh should rip Cutler's helmet off and pummel him senseless. It will only cost him 10 grand more, but it would be infinitely more satisfying.