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On Polamalu cell-phone appeal, NFL changed its own mind

Cell phone Getty Images

The NFL has worked hard this season to ensure that the media understands the specific dynamics of the appeal process for in-game violations.  With plenty of players and reporters and others criticizing the league’s review procedures by claiming that the same people who issue the punishment are the ones who determine whether to uphold it, the NFL has ensured (specifically in the context of the Ndamukong Suh suspension) that everyone understood that those matters are considered on appeal by Art Shell or Ted Cottrell, who are jointly appointed and paid by the NFL and the NFLPA.

We initially assumed (ass, you, me) that the same protocol applied to the reversal of the $10,000 fine levied during the season on Steelers safety Troy Polamalu for using a cell phone device during a game to call his wife.  NFL spokesman Greg Aiello advises PFT that, because the situation did not involve something that happened on the field of play, the appeal actually was handled by the league office.

It makes the decision even more surprising — and it makes the contention (which has been advanced by folks like Polamalu) that it’s a waste of time to ask the league office to reconsider its own rulings even less accurate.

And so, to the extent that the decision to craft a de facto exception to the bright-line rule against the use of electronics during a game has opened a can of worms, the league office was twisting the can opener.  As a practical matter, it means that players can try to persuade the league office that a smartphone or other eletric thingamajig was utilized for non-strategic or non-frivolous reasons.

In Polamalu’s case, it worked.  It future cases, it’ll likely take something more convincing on appeal than, say, a note signed “Epstein’s mother.”

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9 Responses to “On Polamalu cell-phone appeal, NFL changed its own mind”
  1. wegonnadoitbaby says: Jan 14, 2012 12:15 PM

    Epstein’s Mother! Greatness! Google will search that term 5,000 times today!

  2. stevenfbrackett says: Jan 14, 2012 12:45 PM

    Would it be so hard to install in each tunnel to the locker room an outgoing call-only public phone players can use to call the wife/family in these instances?

    If they are fine, there will be no big deal walking over and making the call. If they are not so fine, they are headed to the tunnel anyway….

    Problem solved at very little cost.

    I know, too logical. Will never happen.

  3. kilo0986 says: Jan 14, 2012 12:51 PM

    Its a shame that such a great league has some of the worst officiating and has a pretty jacked up fining system

  4. bunjy96 says: Jan 14, 2012 1:29 PM

    The fine was right in the first place.

    Never should not have been reversed.

    All the league office did was open a can of worms which they will not be able to close.

    Why do players even take these electronic devises with them to the field to begin with?

  5. cliverush says: Jan 14, 2012 2:21 PM

    This matter should be governed by the individual teams.

  6. raidersorcolts73 says: Jan 14, 2012 2:27 PM

    Here us the question on this, was the fine reversed just because of the player in question aka the Revus rule on pass interference

  7. browniebuck says: Jan 14, 2012 4:53 PM

    I highly doubt that it was his cell phone…more than likely belonged to someone on the sideline (coach, trainer, injured player, security, etc…). I despise the Steelers and I have no problem with this fine reversal.

  8. nesuperfan says: Jan 14, 2012 6:17 PM

    stevenfbrackett says:Jan 14, 2012 12:45 PM

    Would it be so hard to install in each tunnel to the locker room an outgoing call-only public phone players can use to call the wife/family in these instances?
    __________________________________

    To be frank, why even do that? Just change the rule to allow that specific circumstance. A player gets hurt, and right after that, they can make one call.

  9. troypolamalushair says: Jan 17, 2012 2:33 AM

    It may be the public story that the NFL changed their own minds over this, but they just don’t want to admit how intimidated they were by the “messages” I sent them.

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