Friday new$ and note$
Hitting the bottom line
The ramping up of fines, ejections and suspensions by the NFL with the violent hits is about many things. Above all, however, it is about the business of the NFL.
Continuing the trend that started with protecting the quarterback and limiting contact with receivers, this is another initiative designed to keep marketable skill players on the field. The fact that an A-list player such as DeSean Jackson did not play this past weekend not only lessened the brand of the Eagles but the brand of the NFL.
As to the grousing by players, the NFL has done the right thing by simply not engaging; it gains nothing from a back-and-forth with its players. Also, players are taking different sides on the issue, with some very much in favor of the new rules. Any division of players in the middle of the CBA negotiations helps the NFL’s leverage while hurting the collective effort of the players.
The challenge with the new rules is enforcement. It appears that the application of the rules requires officials to interpret the mental state of the aggressor and whether he deliberately used his helmet as a weapon or not.
As much as the rules are about business, they are also about law and protecting its downside. God forbid something truly catastrophic could have happened to a player last week and any week, for that matter. The NFL has now responded to the problem – albeit reactionary – before something drastic results from these hits. It is certainly no coincidence that these rules came into focus a few days after Rutgers’ Eric LeGrand was paralyzed. Let’s not be na