Dunta Robinson: Atlanta Falcons Cornerback Lucky NFL Didn't Suspend Him

Zachary D. RymerMLB Lead WriterSeptember 19, 2011

ATLANTA - SEPTEMBER 18: Jeremy Maclin #18 of the Philadelphia Eagles is tackled by Dunta Robinson #23 of the Atlanta Falcons at the Georgia Dome on September 18, 2011 in Atlanta, Georgia. Robinson would be penalized for leading with his helmet. (Photo by Scott Cunningham/Getty Images)
Scott Cunningham/Getty Images

Of all people, Atlanta Falcons cornerback Dunta Robinson should know that leading with your helmet is a good way to draw the ire of NFL disciplinarians.

But on Sunday night, Robinson did it anyway, delivering a nasty helmet-to-helmet blow to Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver Jeremy Maclin. Maclin was down for the count for a few brief moments before getting up, and Robinson was immediately flagged.

On Monday, word has come down (per ESPN's Pat Yasinkas) that the NFL has decided to fine Robinson $40,000 for the hit, and that the league has also sent him a letter warning him that similar hits in the future will result in a bigger fine and maybe even a suspension.

Exactly why the NFL didn't suspend Robinson for his hit on Maclin is beyond me. Some helmet-to-helmet hits are pure accidents, but that wasn't what happened Sunday night. Robinson clearly meant to lead with his helmet, and he had Maclin's head directly in his sights. He executed an illegal hit to perfection.

And we've seen this before from Robinson.

Just last season, he lowered the boom on Eagles wide receiver DeSean Jackson. The hit left Jackson with a concussion, and Robinson was initially hit with a whopping $50,000 fine.

That fine was eventually reduced to a mere $25,000. The NFL must have figured the best idea was to cut Robinson a break. He was, after all, a first-time offender.

Well, Robinson is a two-time offender now, and it's pretty despicable to me that the NFL has actually given him a fine that is less than what it originally wanted to fine Robinson for his hit last year on Jackson. The NFL had every excuse to hit Robinson with a huge fine, or suspend him, and it did neither.

That may be good news for Robinson, but it reflects poorly on the NFL. The league is trying to create a zero-tolerance reputation when it comes to dangerous hits, but it's just not doing a very good job of it. The NFL could have made an example of Robinson, but instead let him off with a slap on the wrist.

When it comes to the message being sent here, I think CBS Sports' Will Brinson said it best:

Had the hit on Maclin resulted in the wideout being carted off the field (a la Austin Collie), would Robinson have been suspended? My guess -- which is, admittedly, a morbid hypothetical -- is that Robinson wouldn't be suiting up for the Falcons next game.

And that's a scary thought because it means the league remains reactive -- rather than proactive -- when it comes to player safety.

He's right. As long as the dangerous hits keep coming, it will be apparent that the deterrent the NFL has created with its current system of fines just isn't working. The only way to make it work will be to up the ante.

The question now is whether or not the NFL has the guts to do that.


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