On November 9, 2010, Steelers safety Troy Polamalu incorrectly explained that appeals of fines imposed for illegal hits are resolved by the Commissioner’s office.
Polamalu was incorrect. The appeals are handled by two men who were jointly appointed and who are jointly paid by the NFL and NFLPA: Art Shell and Ted Cottrell.
Exactly one year later to the day, a Steelers player is once again mischaracterizing the process.
“I mean you can appeal but I’m appealing to the same person,” safety Ryan Clark said of a $40,000 fine imposed against him on Wednesday for a helmet-to-helmet hit, via Ed Bouchette of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. “The same man. I know he’s not going to sit across from because I’m not going to sit across from him unless they handcuff me, which is probably the next step anyway.”
Ryan, you’re simply wrong. And for the same reason that Mike Tomlin needs to be telling his players what the rules permit and what the rules prohibit — instead of reviewing film of an illegal hit and telling the players that it was a good play — Tomlin needs to tell his team the truth about the appeals process.
Instead, coaches are subtly encouraging anger and frustration toward the rules, the league office, and Commissioner Roger Goodell by not ensuring that they players understand the process. As pointed out last week, the coaches don’t pay the fines, and the coaches don’t want their defensive players to be neutered.
Thus, it appears that some coaches are withholding facts from their players, in order to ensure that they play aggressively, and that they remain generally pissed off.
The only way for the NFL to fix the situation is to begin to fine the coaches for promoting an atmosphere of ignorance of the rules, and of disrespect for the Commissioner and the league office.