NFL 2011: Should Helmet-to-Helmet Penalties Be Reviewable?

William TruaxContributor IIIDecember 12, 2011

London Fletcher was penalized for a forearm to Tom Brady's helmet, but as you can see, his forearm is not hitting Brady's helmet.
London Fletcher was penalized for a forearm to Tom Brady's helmet, but as you can see, his forearm is not hitting Brady's helmet.Patrick McDermott/Getty Images

Fines for hits deemed dirty by Roger Goodell and company have become a common occurrence in the National Football League. Along with the deep ball and high octane offenses, safety has ruled in today’s NFL.

I am a big proponent of safety, but the amount of penalties every week for hard hits is getting ridiculous. Some of the helmet-to-helmet hits flagged by referees are just that, helmet-to-helmet; however, not every big hit in the secondary or bang, bang play needs to be penalized.

Most of the time, the perception that the zebras have of a player—James Harrison or Ndamukong Suh are prime examples—will cause the referee to throw the flag. Those two players mentioned have been in the wrong before and I am sure they will be in the future, but they do not deserve a flag every time either has a big collision.

The refs are not supposed to decide a game, but I fear that the quick-to-throw mentality of the officiating crew might cost some teams in the playoffs.

One referee’s poor judgment could cost a team a trip to the Superbowl, which is why I have a suggestion to remedy this problem. Make helmet-to-helmet penalties reviewable.

Imagine that in the NFC Championship, Greg Jennings comes across the middle on a fourth down play late in the game and Roman Harper levels him, and dislodges the ball at the same time. I believe that the Green Bay Packers will host the New Orleans Saints in the NFC Championship, as you can tell, but I digress.

While the Saints are celebrating a trip to Indianapolis, the refs huddle up quickly and decide that Harper made contact with Jennings helmet. As the Saints are pleading their case to Ed Hochuli, the well known ref that shops at baby gap for his t-shirts, millions of people are watching a replay that proves their was no contact to the helmet.

James Harrison's collision with Colt McCoy last Thursday night
James Harrison's collision with Colt McCoy last Thursday nightJustin K. Aller/Getty Images


Packers fans are thanking God while, the Saints supporters are furious, spouting out four letter words that are not appropriate in most situations. Well, those same angry fans only become more enraged as Aaron Rodgers, who is arguably having the greatest season for a QB ever, connects with Jordy Nelson for the game winning touchdown.

The Saints’ faithful fan base is left dejected and the cheese head’s from Wisconsin are celebrating a return trip to the Superbowl. After the final seconds tick off the clock, “experts” and analysts begin commenting on the play, saying the ref blew the call.

The only problem is that the play will not be overturned because Steve Young or John Gruden said so. To think, this whole situation could have been fixed with a simple one minute review. I know the Saints had an opportunity to stop the Packers after the bad call, but it should not have come to that.

Safety is important, but shouldn't getting the call right be important, also? Humans and refs will make mistakes, so let’s put in place a system that could fix these mistakes.