The National Football League can fine Chad Ochocinco, Jay Cutler, Mike Smith, or whomever else they want.
In the end, the biggest offender will always be the NFL.
From 1975 to 1980, Dave Pear tore up NFL offensive linemen. The former Washington Husky was twice voted his college's "Rising Lineman of the Year" and once voted "Player of the Year."
Dave Pear was, less than 30 years ago, a Pro Bowl-caliber lineman with a Super Bowl ring. He bears the unique distinction of being the first Tampa Bay Buccaneer ever to be elected to the Pro Bowl (1978) and started three games for the 1981 Super Bowl Champion, Oakland Raiders.
Dave Pear practiced daily against all-time greats like Gene Upshaw and Art Shell.
Now, at 56, Pear says, "I wish I had never played."
Dave Pear can barely walk. A neck injury he suffered in 1979 has left him permanently handicapped. After tackling Seahawks running back Sherman Smith on Sept. 16 of that year a vertebrae popped out of Pear's neck.
Pear played the next two years hurt at the request of owner Al Davis. Pear has since quoted Davis as later saying, "I will not take responsibility for your neck injury."
Eleven surgeries later, the once powerful pass rusher is all but crippled and faces early onset dementia.
Wayne Hawkins joined the Oakland Raiders in 1960 after the first AFC Allocation draft. Hawkins went on to five Pro Bowls and numerous All Pro teams. Wayne was hit in a game against Kansas City in 1963 and was in a coma for more than 12 hours.
After seeing a team neurologist, Wayne played the next week.
In 2004, Wayne had lost six jobs in the past six years. After numerous PET scans it became clear that Hawkins was suffering from dementia. At the age of 66 (just a few years older than Giants head coach Tom Coughlin), Hawkins was forced to live under the care of his wife, Sharon.
Sharon Hawkins pays over $400 a month for help to care for her husband. The only remuneration the Hawkins' family receives is Wayne's pension of $201.36.
In addition, according to NFL rules, Sharon cannot receive compensation to be her husband's full time caregiver and has actually contemplated divorce as a viable option to care for a man who can no longer work the remote control.
According to the Denver Post, as of 2007, the National Football League spends, on average, about $7,100 per disabled retiree. Comparatively, Major League Baseball spends over $14,000 per disabled athlete.
This week, by proxy, Chad Ochocino and others are giving a hefty donation to the NFL disability fund. Whenever the NFL fines a player, it donates the proceeds to various charitable organizations—including retired player programs and charities involving youth, education, and medical research.
By law, the fines imposed by the NFL are levied to the player after taxes. However, also by law, the NFL can write off their subsequent donation for a tax break.
The media speaks of the absurdity of NFL fines, calling America's foremost professional football enterprise the "No Fun League."
How about the No Fairness League?
Chad Ochocinco is not suffering. He, admittedly, will suffer only a week without his addiction—McDonald's. Chad has also announced that he will match the amount of the fine and, with the help of Rock Software, will be donating that money to various charities.
Don't cry for Chad Ochocinco. Cry for Dave Pear and Wayne Hawkins.
Cry for Kenny Easley, the former Seattle Seahawk who was pumped so full of drugs by team doctors his kidneys are now failing.
Cry for the bricks that laid the foundation of the NFL that now lay crumbling as the owners and league which profited off of them ignores their problems.
The NFL has been targeted by Congress to do more about concussions—a known cause of early onset dementia in former professional athletes. The NFL, through its commissioner Rodger Goodell, has claimed it is doing enough and denies the link between concussions and later brain damage.
Athletes are not fooled. Recently, Cardinals receiver Sean Morey and Eagles running back Brian Westbrook have sat out more games than expected after receiving concussions.
The Eagles have played it safe with Westbrook, even after a loss to division rival Dallas. Westbrook will play in Week 11 against the San Diego Chargers. Unlike in the NFL's past, that is his decision—not his team's.
The NFL fined Chad Ochocinco after he offered a $1 bribe to a referee. The NFL wrote to Ochocinco, "The very appearance of impropriety is not acceptable."
Really, National Football League?
Tell that to Dave Pear.
Michael Schottey is a Detroit Lions Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report and the producer and host of The Average Joe Sports Show on 860AM KNUJ (New Ulm, MN). He is also an NFL Analyst and Senior Writer for DraftTek.com. Follow Him on Twitter.