John Harbaugh supports helmet-to-helmet rules, except when they’re applied to his players

In an interview with Bob Costas aired during NBC’s Football Night in America, Ravens coach John Harbaugh sounded like a guy who has no problem with the league’s new approach to helmet-to-helmet hits against defenseless receivers.

“Going helmet-to-helmet or shoulder-to-helmet against defenseless players is no longer part of the game.  There’s no question in my mind that our team has figured it out, most of the league has figured it out, and shortly everybody will figure it out,” Harbaugh said.

“It’s not that hard to figure out.  You’ve got to respect each other.  And I think that player safety is really important.  And if you have enough respect for the guy you’re playing against, you’ll adhere to that.”

That was before Ravens linebacker Jameel McClain received a $40,000 fine for applying a helmet-to-helmet hit against Steelers tight end Heath Miller at a time when Miller fell within the definition of “defenseless receiver.”

I was shocked,” Harbaugh said Tuesday night on his weekly radio show, via Aaron Wilson of NFP.  “He’s a first-time offender.  Jameel, there was nothing he can do.  I think the league understands that.  I can’t imagine why they fined him so much.”

But, Coach, Jameel went helmet-to-helmet against a defenseless player.

“Jameel tried to go low,” Harbaugh said.  “He did everything humanly possible to hit the tight end low.  You fine a guy $40,000 for trying to apply the rule.  He tried to do something that’s against the rule of physics.  I say you’re taking someone’s money unfairly.”

And there you have it.  Coaches like Harbaugh fully support the rule, as long as it’s used only to protect his players and not to punish them.  Regardless of Miller’s actions, McClain led with his helmet, placing the impact beyond the rules.

McClain actually was lucky that he was fined only $40,000.  First-time offenders coughed up $50,000 for illegal hits applied on October 17, and Falcons cornerback Dunta Robinson’s infraction was far less obvious than McClain’s.

The better argument that Harbaugh should be advancing is that fines should be based on percentages of base salary, given that McClain will earn $470,000 in 2010.  His fine represents 8.5 percent of his gross pay.

The numbers are wildly inconsistent, when compared to base salaries.  For Robinson, the $50,000 fine reflected only one percent of his $5 million base salary.  For Patriots safety Brandon Meriweather, a $50,000 fine chewed up nine percent of his $550,000 base salary.

Steelers linebacker James Harrison has coughed up more than 16 percent of his $775,000 base salary for four illegal hits this year.

That said, those percentages shrink for players like Harrison when factoring in bonus money.  That’s why the best approach would be to fine players based on percentages of cap number, not base salary.

It’s an easy fix, and it’s a fair fix.  And it’s an argument that would make Harbaugh seem far less hypocritical than he now does, given the stark contrast between his nationally-televised remarks to Bob Costas on Sunday and his local-radio comments on Tuesday.

65 responses to “John Harbaugh supports helmet-to-helmet rules, except when they’re applied to his players

  1. AWWWW as a Steelers fan ive never heard that argument before . Having to change directions in mid air ? lol isnt that easy ? Harrison keeps hearing that too .

  2. C’mon Mike, I have to seriously question your intent or interpretation with a heading like that. What Harbaugh is saying is that it is all about intent of the player and whether they are trying to follow the rules. I think he is saying that the league should take into condsideration the circumsances, if a variable changes, due to no fault of the accused player, that causes him to break the rule. Has nothing to do with what team the player represents. It wasn’t like an intentional spear by Harrison, followed up with a post game comment of “yes, I’m trying to harm people.”

  3. Wow…what a stretch for you to write this. He hasn’t chaneg dhis stance at all, he is saying that…oh what’s the use, you write this junk to get people like me to read it, get passionate about your lack of journalist skills and then comment…congratulations.

  4. Adjusting the amount of fines according to the salary of the player is a ridiculous concept.
    If rules were all changed in this manner, I’d be paying 5 bucks for a speeding ticket. What would I have to lose? $20 for a DUI? Great! What a deal!

  5. base salary isn’t right either:

    If you get a 30M signing bonus and $500k base salary and I have no signing bonus and the same base…

    It won’t take long until contracts are set up to beat this anyway.

    waht the nfl needs to do first is make the fines consistent, then they can worry about making them “fair”

  6. As a diehard Steelers fan who griped at the non-call against Jameel McClain during the game, I absolutely agree with Harbaugh.

    If the NFL is serious about making and enforcing rules to protect players, they need to generate a rule about ball carriers leading with the crown of their helmet and/or ducking their heads.

    Miller ducked his head just like Massaquoi did. Both head-ducks are what resulted in the concussions, as it put their heads in the way of the moving bodies of McClain and Harrison respectively. The problem is not and was not the way in which McClain and Harrison both attempted to make a tackle.

  7. Except it was not a helmet-to-helmet hit florio. Go back and look at the tape and you will see that he both leads and hits with his shoulder. This is, by rule, an automatic penalty, but to imply that it was along the lines of meriweather’s hit is ridiculous. I’m not objecting to a fine, but 40k is outrageous for this infraction. That’s what happens when the league adopts a policy of handing out arbitrary fine amounts whenever they feel like it.

    Get some glasses florio. It was not a H-T-H hit!

  8. Florio you are such a vag! I am sure you never put a jock on in your life. Lawyer talk all the time on this helmet-to -helmet. That game Sunday night was the way football was to be played. Heath Miller will be fine and if you ask him he is cool with that hit!

  9. Most of these guys can pay these fines out of their petty cash. If you want to see the behavior change, start suspending them and sitting their asses down for a few games!

  10. A professional reporter would have gone back and looked at the hit (not just in slo-mo) to determine if this was any different than the hit on Austin Collie that went unfined before calling Harbaugh a hypocrite. Harbaugh is saying McClain isn’t leading with his helmet, going upward, or leading with his forearm or shoulder.

    McClain is doing what you are supposed to do if there is a tipped ball you can’t get to: take out a receiver. He is at one level, trying to legally hit Heath Miller but his head falls so low, almost to McClain’s knees, that in that split moment his helmet connects.

    What constitutes “leading with your hands”? If he had put his hands right in front of his helmet, then Heath Miller doesn’t get concussed. He does put his hands in front of him though.

  11. A Coach gives an informative interview trying to maintain a neutral approach to a hot topic issue. Then one of his own becomes embroiled in the issue and he comes to the players side for support. SO WHAT!!! Nowhere did I hear him applaud the actions of McClain. You chastise Harbaugh for being a Headcoach and standing beside McClain not for the hit, but for the Punishment. Then you proceed to clarify exactly why he is doing it!!! He did not say McClain was innocent he was just giving his interpretation as to why it happened, i.e. players ducking or going to the ground, etc!! It was not Helmet to Helemt anyway. Not that it matters, it was Shoulder to Helmet. Watch the video. Did he hit him? Yes. Could he have avoided it? Maybe. He was fined and THAT is where the problem lies. “The Fine”. Not that he should not have been fined. Its The amount of such fine!!! They are unfairly applied!!

    C’mon Mike this is weak. I usually enjoy all your posts and try to maintain an open mind through all the Whining and BS. However this is stretching it. Taking a stance for your player is not defending his actions. He is only doing what EVERY other Headcoach would do… There are times when its better to just keep your thoughts to yourself Mr. Florio.. This is one of them!!!

  12. If you want this fixed, full time officials and a fine schedule. Apply the rules consistently and have a MEANINGFUL appeals process. Problem is solved in a couple weeks.

    We have part time officials, Goodell doing whatever he damn well pleases and then a sham appeals process. I can’t imagine how this problem hasn’t already fixed itself.

  13. Baltimore dodge a bullet when Josh McDaniels turned down the Ravens job and hired this guy. He sticks up for his players. Big deal.

  14. Harbaugh should spend more time on Cam Cameron’s dumb play callin and why Polamalu was totally unblocked on Sunday night.

  15. Not sure what was wrong with what he said…… he said in the first interview that he agrees with fines on people who go helmet to helmet ( with intent,listen to the whole interview instead of putting bits and pieces here ) and he said in the other interview he knew that McClain was going to get fined, just not as much as he did and he was ” shocked” by that.

    IF Heath Miller would have caught the pass and been running McClain would have hit him in the stomach, not the head…

  16. If you watch the film McClain was leading with his shoulder, aimed low at where Miller’s body should have been. Miller ended up putting his head down, where McClain’s helmet hit, but from watching the film, it is blatantly obvious that McClain was leading with his shoulder.

    40K is wayyyy too much for a tackle deemed legal on the field, a 1st time offender, and for a tackle whose intent was not to be helmet to helmet.

    Ngata should not have been fined at all.

  17. i’m not gonna go so far as to agree with the man (not so sure there was NOTHING McClain could/should have done), but this is the same thing everyone has been saying about this junk. the speed of the game rarely allows the kind of adjustment to some obscure “target point” that would really make this stuff less subjective. take suh’s hit for example. with the benefit of replay, we can see that his hit on cutler was clean as a whistle, but he was flagged and yardage was assessed. the league’s stance on this: sorry, but in real time it looked really bad so we had to penalize you for it to be safe. what kind of half-cooked policy is that?
    i bet some of you supporters of this nonsense wouldnt be so forgiving if police started giving speeding tickets without having used a radar gun and telling you that it “looked” like you were speeding to their naked eye. you can go to court to appeal it, but you have to pay it anyway (non-refundable, even if you win an appeal) and not look like you’re going so fast next time.
    my point has always been that their hearts are in the right place, but there needs to be A LOT more thought, discussion, and input placed into their policies and procedures. This isnt a mid-season fix. you have to take small steps to change the culture and do this stuff in the offseason. let the new techniques be taught in OTAs and other off-season activities, not the middle of the season.

  18. $40k for McClain is over 2 game checks (and I don’t think he even gets bonuses). That’s a lot of money and he was defended his player in that aspect. In fact his radio quote sounds pretty familiar to another coach talking about taking money away for his player’s college fun 🙂

  19. He sounded pretty arrogant in his interview with Costas before the game. Now he seems pretty ignorant if he’s trying to say that hit wasn’t over the line and deserving of a hefty fine.

    C’mon coach, you made a statement suggesting your team was the benchmark in the league for safe play and then their actions didn’t back up that claim.

  20. Again, it wouldnt take long for a Baltimoron to start the crying and whining. And, it does look like it filters down from coach to players. Baltimore has a very good team but the constant complaining about calls that dont go there way is laughable. They sure dont copmplain at all when a call may go there way..even if its a blown call…and then whine like babies about calls that go against them. Instead suck it up or take responsibity for losing a game or blown play or a rule infraction. Every team goes through this but Baltimorons lead the AFC in whining thats for sure (= Dallas in the NFC) .

  21. oh no ravens fans, you lost the game and now your coach is whining about fines. what on earth can you possibly rip about the steelers now?

  22. as a Diehard Steelers fan, all i can say is harbaugh is an as*hole…Listen to or read any of his press conferences..
    he never compliments an opposing team ever and is just an ahole.. Same with his brother Jim, were these guys abused growing up, why all the negativity…

  23. BRAVO!

    About time somebody pointed out what a hypocrite Harbaugh is. Sitting there on national TV lecturing the Steelers and James Harrison about illegal hits, bragging about how well he and his team understand the rules, and then having not one but two of his own players perform illegal shots to the head.

    How does Harbaugh respond to illegal hits performed by his own players? Like the biggest hypocrite in America, saying they should not be fined….

    typical Raven….

  24. Good coach but you won’t find anyone complain more during a game than Harbaugh…so this really isn’t surprising.

  25. If Harbaugh knew the rule half as much as he claims to he would know it has nothing to do with intent and everything to do with the final result. If you intend to injure, but don’t, because your helmet missed the other guy’s helmet, that’s okay. But if you didn’t intend to go helmet to helmet, as so many of these hits start off as, but end up helmet to helmet, it’s “illegal” and you end up being fined.

    He sat there and said his team knows the rule and has no problem with the rule. Well, Johnny, you don’t know the rule. and you clearly have a problem with it. That makes you ignorant or arrogant. Pick one. It’s your choice.

    As for Ratbird fans, how are you going to explain this one? You can’t have it both ways. Either your coach and team can lay claim to the moral high horse (we know and respect the rules but the Steelers don’t) but then you have to acknowledge the hypocrisy of the response to the fines or your coach and team doesn’t know the rules, just like the Steelers have ben saying all along – the rules aren’t clear and that’s why people are frustrated! So which is it? Is your coach and team a bunch of hypocrites and ignorant whiners or were the Steelers right all along (and pretty much everyone else except for Foolio) when they said the rules are inconsistently applied, making them bad rules.

  26. I like how these comments go from intelligent thought out answers to idiotic Raven haters who want to spout off. Harbaugh is definitely in the right, the fine was too much. He led with his shoulder, he tried to pull up when he saw Heath going to the ground. It was unfortunate but entirely accidental, it was a form tackle just as Harbaugh said his guys know how to do.

  27. You Ravens homers are truly dumb!

    First, Miller dropped the ball a full second before he was hit, and he was falling in a defenseless way. There was no reason for McClain to hit him at all, the ball had already hit the turf. McClain went low because that was where Miller’s head was. Should have been a 15 yard penalty and the same $50k fine the other egregious first time offenders got.

    Harbaugh is the biggest hypocrite in America because he professed how well he and his players understood what was a legal and illegal hit, then once his player makes said illegal hit Harbaugh is directly quoted as saying that his player’s hit was clean and should not have been fined at all.

    Yeah John, “everybody will get it soon”, except you. Your player makes one of the most egregious hits of the year well after the league emphasis was put to the issue and the Ray Anderson video was sent out, and you don’t think those rules apply to your players.

  28. PFT…. why not just come out and say we are the new mouthpiece for NFL.

    You and your bosses still don’t get the issue, its the consistency of this whole process……. there is no consistency in the officiating on the field or fines levied after the game. That iss what the players and fans are looking for.

  29. Go back to the press conferences after the game and day after…he says what McClain did, was not against the rules and should not be fined. I didn’t see him standing up for Harrison on his hit in the bengals game…the player dipped his head and that is when he was hit. This is no difference. He is just pissed that he made himself look like an idiot on national tv claiming he knows how to coach his players to play within the rules and the Steelers don’t…how did that work out for you?

    I am also surprised Raven fans would defend him so much – he just called the fan base out and told them to find another team to root for…

    Now, I agree you can not stop yourself once you have made a football move – the speed of the game is just too fast…but don’t stand up there and preach to other teams about how well you coach a team and then complain when your guys do the same thing and get fined.

    Agreed – he does not give anyone credit when he is defeated. He is a very sore loser and acts like a kid in middle school who had his lunch stolen.

  30. In general, I am in the camp that believes that some violent hits are simply unavoidable, and to fine someone for an unavoidable hit…regardless of whether it ended up being helmet to helmet is ridiculous.

    McClain’s hit on the other hand, could not have fit more squarely into the category of text book, as to the exact type of hit that is not only avoidable but also completely unneeded in the NFL because of how dangerous it was.

    Seriously, anyone with 1/2 a brain cell knew he was getting a massive fine, and frankly I’m pretty shocked it was less than $50k, even though he was only a 1st time offender.

    If you watch the replay, the hit was waaaayyy late..he had at least several seconds to make a variety of movements that would have not resulted in the hit that occured. Miller had clearly already dropped the ball with no chance of catching it. 2-3 seconds later, he gets knocked unconscious by a brutal blow to the head. Terrible

  31. “Steelers linebacker James Harrison has coughed up more than 16 percent of his $775,000 base salary for four illegal hits this year.”

    Between Roger “the stooge” Goodell and Uncle Sam, Harrison will be lucky to make a dime his year.

    Pathetic Ravens. There’s no better example of an illegal hit.

  32. As the coach stated, McClain was going down when he went for the hit trying to hit the “strikezone” at about the same time Miller was going down. The headhunter Harrison who constantly leads with the crown of his helmet to the head has no room to talk at all. Replay the hits in the Pittsburgh v Cleveland game as well as the McClain hit.

  33. Harbaugh was piling on in his pregame interview. . . . . .

    He was taking jabs at the Steelers, “It’s not hard, it’s within the rules and we have adjusted” Ray stabby stabby has done a great job of adjusting his game.

    Yet, there were 6 personal foul non calls in that game and 2 huge fines. . . . .


  34. This would almost be funny had McClain not nearly killed heath Miller, or at least broke his neck.
    Without a doubt one of the dirtiest hits of the year.

    “Jameel tried to go low,” Harbaugh said. “He did everything humanly possible to hit the tight end low.”

    “Low” means “forehead level” in Baltimore.
    AND he hit him late, after he was already down on the ground. You don’t get much more “defenseless” than that.

    The fine should have been higher.
    And now Harbaugh should be fined too.

  35. Florio, I’m disappointed with your analysis on this one. As others have already pointed out, McClain did not lead with his helmet on this hit.
    Usually your analysis is very in-depth and you’re very good a breaking down any situation. On this one though I think you are just going with your gut and you saw what happened to Miller as a result of McClain’s textbook approach to tackle him. Nobody wants to see guys get hit and knocked out of games, but c’mon what are these defenders supposed to do – freeze in mid air?
    The league continues to try to make defenses go soft so that more big plays will happen and more points on the board. It all comes down to money.

  36. Lost in all this is the difficulty of adherence to this rule by NFL players. Having played semi-professionally myself, I have likely a more detailed insight than most. First, let me say that some of the hits have been blatant illegal shots targeting the head (The Meriweather hit comes to mind). However, hits like Harrison’s on Massoquai, Robinson on Jackson, and to a lesser extent McClains are largely NOT the defenders fault. Let me explain.

    When a receiver is catching a ball he is anticipating contact. When you anticipate contact, you lower your head and shoulders, get compact so that you can run through it, or better absorb the hit. Now, a defensive player, seeking to jar the ball loose, is targeting the chest area where the ball is. If you now lower your helmet, you have put that in the strike zone. It is IMPOSSIBLE to lower your hit in those fractions of seconds.

    So yes, the rule is hard to follow. I understand the ban against leading with the helmet, but I more take issue with the leading with another part of your body and making contact with the helmet. Every peewee football player knows spearing with your head = broken neck. McClain’s hit was probably about 3 feet off the ground. Miller fell into the hit. It was IMPOSSIBLE for him to pull up. The “strike zone” was invaded in a matter of microseconds, making it impossible for him to avoid the contact. Was it a penalty by the letter of the law, yes. Should it have been called, yes. Should he be fined, no.

    A fine carries with it the inherent idea that the conduct perpetrated was egregiously wrong or performed with malice. In general, it is not good policy, in my opinion, to treat these as strict liability actions. The review committee needs to be a larger committee with active players, former players, coaches, and front office personnel. Players can judge a dirty hit from a non dirty one better than anyone.

    As an aside – I can’t wait to see the backlash in the coming years from receivers getting their knees blown out. Being a former TE/LB, I know that I would much rather take a shot up high then to my knee when running across the field.

  37. @papmommom716:
    did you read the comments posted after Tomlin came out and supported his players? he is/was CRUCIFIED for “teaching and condoning” illegal hits. just a quick example:

    “if yer not first… says: Oct 19, 2010 4:38 PM
    Harrison is an animal, the coach condones cheating and their QB, well, I think everybody knows about him.
    But… it’s a classy organization.”

    one of the PFT writers even wrote an article that we “continue our assault on illegal hits”

    “Jameel tried to go low,” Harbaugh said. “He did everything humanly possible to hit the tight end low. You fine a guy $40,000 for trying to apply the rule. He tried to do something that’s against the rule of physics. I say you’re taking someone’s money unfairly.”

    please tell me how he is NOT justifying the hit here. btw, he was diving to catch the ball, not ducking his head to brace for contact.

  38. Hey John, Nick Collins got tagged for $50k as a first time offender and McClain’s hit was much worse…..quit you’re bitchin’

  39. I know am I not quite 30 yet, but I will say this: the Ravens complain more than any other team in the history of the NFL. Is that all they do in their meetings?

    “Oh me oh my we are the most put upon team in the NFL. Oh me oh my why do we have to play on Thursday? Oh me oh my Tom Brady talks a lot of trash on the field. “

    They should be concerned about their very suspect offense. Unless they are playing the Carolina Panthers, their offense can’t score.

  40. always amusing to hear steelers fans whine about someone else’s whining. The hypocrisy is astounding.

  41. The problem with this hit, in particular, is that the ball is not caught and the “defenseless” player is not lowering himself into the hit. The ball was dropped directly TOWARD McClain’s field of view. Heath Miller was falling and could not be back under his own control until he reached the ground. As fast as it was, there was time to change the impact.

    The view from McClain’s eyes was that of a player falling, the ball on the ground, yet he took the shot anyway.

    This is more comparable to Brandon Meriweather’s hit on Todd Heap in October than some of the other fines that have gone out. Maybe Harbaugh should be reminded of that, umm … extra sugar. (I think that’s what they like to call it in New England.)

  42. stinger9 says:
    Dec 8, 2010 9:01 AM
    Florio, I’m disappointed with your analysis on this one. As others have already pointed out, McClain did not lead with his helmet on this hit.
    Usually your analysis is very in-depth and you’re very good a breaking down any situation.
    Except when his analysis goes against your team I see.


    When Harrison was getting fined, most of you were calling him out saying he should adjust his game and that any hit where he led with his helmet was illegal. You agreed with his fines and blasted Tomlin and the Rooney’s for supporting him.

    Now the tables have turned and another team is being punished for the SAME THING: A helmet-to-helmet hit, and all of you are defending McClain saying there was nothing he could do. You are also supporting Harbaugh for defending his player.


    Like you said before: Doesn’t matter intent, doesn’t matter what the offenive player did with his head–it’s illegal now.

    All I’m going to do is laugh because it’s happening to other players/teams. Do you want me to feel sorry for McClain becuase he’s losing a significant amount of his salary this season. Let me see…did you feel sorry for Harrison? Nope. So I don’t care one bit about McClain. maybe he should be a better player so he can make more money like Harrison.

    And I laugh more at Harbaugh. He sounded so pompous during that interview. Taking digs at the Steelers and the players…and what happens? His player screws up and he looks like an a$$.

  44. I like the term lead with the helmet if your going in full speed and your gonna plant your shoulder in his midsection wrap up and take the guy down how aren’t u leading with your helmet lol I mean it comes infront of everything else when your making a tackle maybe guys should lead with their feet and dropkick ppl to the ground the only reason McLain and millers helmets hit was because miller dropped down into the so called strike zone and if u wouldn’t do suggestive journalism u would put the rest of the quote from John in which he says that he was told by officials when all this helmet to helmet madness was going on that when a receiver hunkers down like heath did and put themselves in danger like that in the act of a catch that it’s not hitting a defensless receiver just like the Austin collie play how are u defenseless when u drop down to protect yourself or catch the ball and take two steps? I don’t think the problem is the rules but the enforcement of them u see a guy get hit and it’s no flag but u go to another game see the same hit or a lesser hit and that’s flagged and the fines are worse $25,000 for punching a guy in the face but $40,000 for not being able to stop in mid air that’s the real problem is the consistency of these kinda things

  45. Its bad enough you have to sit through commercials between every play, but now hitting is being taken away. This league has become too big for its britches.

  46. maddog111 – didn’t lead with his helmet? ? ? ?


    Okay, let’s just play pretend for a minute and say you are right. (just pretend)

    Even if he didn’t make helmet to helmet contact, he hit a defenseless receiver when he had every opportunity not to.

    Not only that he hit the receiver in the head and bent his neck so far back Miller looked like a pez dispenser.

    That was a spear hit which reminded me of a guy name Chuck Cecil.

    Pretend time is over

  47. When the fines depend on some league hack looking over and over at slo mo TV to determine if the hit is legal or not, there is something rotten in Denmark.

    The game is on the field. That’s where it should remain. These attempts to be uberfair is stinking up the joint.

    Let’s declare the season over so nobody else gets hurt and vote on who the champs are or come up with some computer rating to do the job. It makes about as much sense.

  48. Are you Ravens fans serious? You fully support the fines and rules when they are applied to James Harrison for the exact same hit then all of a sudden when McClain is fined you act like the Commisioner is crazy. THIS HAS BEEN HAPPENING FOR MONTHS you are just too infatuated with the negateive press for the Steelers that you dont even understand the controversy surrounding it.

  49. myspaceyourface says:
    Dec 8, 2010 9:58 AM
    maddog111 – didn’t lead with his helmet? ? ? ?

    You missed something in my post. I was responding to a Ravens fan. Of course he led with his helmet.

  50. I am always amazed by the people who call for full-time officials as the cure-all for making judgement calls with 300 pound men flying into each other at speed. I can guarantee you that 100% of the refs know the rules and the directives which come from the league office. The problem is applying them at full-speed. Reading books or watching film does not make one better. Only being on the field at the speed of the game does. Since the NFL plays almost all their games on Sundays, these officials would be paid to do what, read a book?

    Perhaps the NFL could forgo some of the 10 years’ experience requirement for lesser experienced but much younger/fit referees. But making these calls is not a matter of not knowing the rules but is a matter of muscle memory which one gets only by repetition at game speed. There simply isn’t a schedule in place which would suggest there is enough, or any work, beyond the Sunday schedule. Sign me up if they go full-time though. I’d love to ref three hours each weekend, watch some film during the week, and relax, with pay, from February through August.

  51. If you look back at some of the earlier articles from Monday and Tuesday mentioning Heap and Miller and the fines, there were a ton of fans using Harbaugh’s quotes in their posts.

    This article came out Wednesday morning. So basically Florio got the idea for this article from his posters.

  52. It is pretty funny to see these Raven fans try to excuse their player.

    They pointed fingers at Harrison and laughed.

    Not so funny now, is it? Why so serious?

  53. @iselldrugstoandyreidskids:
    if thats what they told him, they are not in lockstep with the league. Goodell himself said that even in the situation you outlined (though miller was diving and attempting to catch the ball, not ducking to brace for a hit), the onus is on the defender to adjust. btw, thats EXACTLY what happened with Harrison v. Massequoi, yet James was crucified and fined.

    it wasnt helmet to helmet, it was shoulder to helmet, but there’s not really a distinction between the consequences handed down for either. just like harrison’s hit on massequoi, it was shoulder to helmet.

  54. Not so high and mighty now Harbaugh. The rules apply to everyone and they aren’t confusing to anyone? Ravens understand them and regularly discuss them to stay right. I heard you say it.
    Should have suspended him for the hit.

  55. I’ll bet Ed Reed wishes he could have used his helmet, or any other body part for that matter, in the game. As usual In a Steelers-Ravens game, he was a non-factor.

  56. The rules were fishy when Harrison et al were being fined, and they are fishy now. Anyone trying to draw distinctions between the two cases is being disingenuous or willfully obtuse (like Harbaugh). People need to stop drinking the hatorade when looking at the huge problem with officiating and discipline in this league. It has been getting worse for some time now, and will not change as long as people are fine laughing and pointing at players on teams they hate getting the fines.

  57. @cshearing:
    well said, and what many posters have been saying for a while now. when the only support you get for this crap comes from fans/players/coaches of teams that despise the team/player in question, there has to be a flaw in the system.

  58. When is Florio going to write an article about Harbaugh whining? Probably won’t happen cuz he’s a hack.

  59. Dear Coach Harbaugh – You could have just said that you agree with Coach Tomlin instead of just repeating everything he has already said.

    The fact of the matter is that once the NFL starts issuing these fines evenly across the league, more players and coaches will start saying the same thing. Just like Harbaugh.

  60. Well, Mike, that article started out so promising. Yes, I agree. Harbaugh was being arrogant and it’s ridiculous that he can’t man up and say so. But what’s done is done. Now, at least, maybe he can get an inkling of what these issues are.

    However, fining players after the fact will not make the NFL safer. This solution takes money from the players without putting the responsibility where it belongs: on the league. How does a QB wind up bending over and bleeding down the front of his shirt without the ref realizing he took a blow to the head? How does a player wind up motionless on the ground just after a defender flew in and hit him without a ref realizing there was a blow to the head? These plays need to be flagged in game.

    The first step is simple: Implement the NCAA’s replay system. Your friend Tony Dungy is calling for the same solution. If you want to write something useful, Mike, tell us how much that would cost the NFL. If the NCAA can do that for dozens of games each weekend, why can the NFL do it for a maximum of 32?

    And as someone else suggested, if you won’t go to full-time officials, how about at least getting more officials on the field?

    It’s the LEAGUE’S job to preserve the integrity of the game. You do that with appropriate officiating, not fining players. (And Harrison didn’t lead with his helmet against Brees and Fitzpatrick.)

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