Last Thursday, I joined about 20 other bloggers for a small get together with the Commish, Ray Anderson and a host of other NFL representatives to talk about pretty much whatever we wanted to talk about. Of course, I tried to stay away from the topic of fines, but it came up and so I am taking advantage of learning the entire process of how punishments are assessed and appeals reviewed.
So, the entire process…..
Each Sunday (or game day in general) a room full of people watch every single game to make sure the referees make good calls and also to watch for potential illegal hits (whether they were called or not). Now, I understand the theory that goes into wanting legal hits. No one wants injury for either the player getting hit or the player making the hit but where I have a hard time understanding on a consistent basis is what the League defines as “legal” and “illegal” happening every single play of every single game. I just don’t think you can predict a way a guy falls and how that might change how you as a defender have to approach him, all in game time full speed. I see their point in slow motion, but it’s definitely difficult in full speed.
Now with that said, the review process, from what was explained is that a team of people review, like I said above, those reviews are then sent to Ray Anderson, EVP of Football Operations and Merton Hanks, VP of Football Operations. They then make the decision to discipline a player.
That decision is shared with the Commish, of course, but he doesn’t make the initial decision.
Fines are not random, according to the CBA signed last year. In fact, the fine schedule (see complete fine schedule in attachment below) is also shared with the players prior to each season.
Now the caveat here, Steelers fans, because I know you will get your panties in a bunch regarding Harrison’s fines, is that they do take into consideration past fineable actions and behavior. If a player was fined in a prior season that can increase the current fines.
According to the NFL, after a decision to discipline has been determined, the player receives an email/letter (typically the Tuesday after a Sunday game day) that explains the disciplinary action, the specific rule violation that triggered the discipline, instructions on how to appeal, and instructions on where to view video of the specific play in which the violation occurred.
Players have 3 days to appeal and a hearing is conducted within 10 days of notice of appeal.
Appeals are heard in accordance with the 2010 agreement between the NFL and NFLPA. In addition, appeals are heard by jointly appointed (and compensated, yes they are paid by both the NFL and NFLPA) appeals officers Art Shell and Ted Cottrell.
Only AFTER appeals are heard and decided upon will pay be withheld from a players paycheck if that’s the decision.
Fine money does not go to fill the NFL multi-billion dollar coffers – instead, fine money is donated through NFL Charities to the NFL Player Care Foundation and the NFLPA’s Player Assistance Trust. The fines also support medical research at the Brian Piccolo Memorial Fund and the Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Care Foundation.
Again, I understand what the NFL is trying to do – we are seeing more and more retired players suffering from trauma from the game. We all love the game and we want to see players careers last longer. Of course, as a smashmouth Steelers football fan, seeing the game watered down is difficult. It’s a fine balance between keeping the game tough and physical (Think Steelers-Ravens every year, every match up) and making sure everyone stays healthy.
Learning the news of Junior Seau’s death yesterday, and while nothing’s been confirmed on the link between the tough game and his depression, you can’t help wonder – and hope that we can find a way to keep the game exciting, yet stop the post-game stress on players. Concussions, hard hits, broken bones, tendon/muscle tears – I love the physical tough game – but I don’t love the after effects.
I know a lot of retired players – seeing the toll the game has taken on their bodies and their brains is tough to see.
There’s got to be a balance.
Let’s just hope the balance keeps the game great and exciting and not too watered down.
Te read more, attached is the Review Process for On Field Violations from the NFL: