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Watt not fined for de-helmeting Rodgers

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During last Sunday night’s game between the Packers and the Texans, Houston defensive end J.J. Watt, possibly the 2012 NFL MVP, removed the helmet of Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers, the 2011 NFL MVP.

No flag was thrown.  And per the league office, no fine will be imposed.

Both decisions seem incorect.  The only possible explanation, in light of the rules regarding quarterbacks on the move, is that Rodgers clearly had become a runner when Watt put a paw on Rodgers’ brain box, eventually emerging with the helmet.  But Rodgers had simply ducked and taken a step forward; he was no more running with the ball than he was protecting himself.

Though careful scrutiny of the game tape could, possibly, result in the conclusion that Rodgers no longer was protected against a forcible blow to the head, the flag should have been thrown, given that the officials are instructed to err on the side of protecting the players — a standard about which our pal and Pro Football Talk on NBC Sports Network colleague Ross Tucker vehemently disagrees.

Feel free to agree or disagree, vehemently or otherwise, with any aspect of this post in the comments below.

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27 Responses to “Watt not fined for de-helmeting Rodgers”
  1. wilddeuce03 says: Oct 20, 2012 2:02 PM

    To me, it didn’t seem like he attempted to rip the helmet off. I’d have to see the play again. Looked more like the way he wrapped him up, with Rodgers going one direction, and Watt going the other is what caused the helmet to come off. It certainly wasn’t like when Suh did it in a preseason game against Jake Delhomme a couple years ago (think that’s who it was).

  2. thingamajig says: Oct 20, 2012 2:03 PM

    It’s time to bring back the replacement refs.

  3. broadstbully says: Oct 20, 2012 2:09 PM

    I saw nothing wrong with the play. The helmet contact itself, as well as the resultant de-helmeting, seemed purely incidental. Maybe a flag should have been thrown, due to the fact that it looked much worse in real time. But certainly no fine was warranted, IMO.

  4. mikealstott says: Oct 20, 2012 2:11 PM

    Can we please just put flags on the QBs hips already? And while we are at it lets have the defense count to “four mississippi” before they can rush the passer…

  5. mikealstott says: Oct 20, 2012 2:13 PM

    Or we can fit everyone into those giant inflatable plastic Sumo wrestling costumes and have them play…

  6. gonzolo4 says: Oct 20, 2012 2:25 PM

    I like sarcastiball

  7. 6steelrings says: Oct 20, 2012 2:42 PM

    Bet if he wore a steeler’s jersey he would have received a fine and/or a suspension!!!!! Great to see double standards are alive and well in Goodell’s NFL.

  8. sakatak says: Oct 20, 2012 2:53 PM

    J.J. Watt the 2012 MVP? Highly unlikely, great player none the less.

  9. milkcan44 says: Oct 20, 2012 2:58 PM

    J.J. gets a pass because he’s from suburban Milwaukee and deep-down has to be a Packer fan at heart.

  10. shlort says: Oct 20, 2012 3:15 PM

    The NFL felt the pounding GB gave Houston was punishment enough. :-)

    Anyway, the league can stop fining a DL or LB 15K every time they sack a QB. I can see protecting players, but it seems like every other sack draws a flag and a fine.

  11. thetokyosandblaster says: Oct 20, 2012 3:39 PM

    Mikey, you’re really reaching here.

    A play that no one was complaining about, that didn’t draw a flag, and didn’t warrant a fine, deserves a blog entry.

  12. wideright91 says: Oct 20, 2012 3:50 PM

    If JJ watt did that to Tom Brady, he would have been suspended for the year.

  13. LilTmac2003 says: Oct 20, 2012 3:59 PM

    While it’s difficult to judge intent, I think his intention were not to decapitate Rodgers.

    Reminded me of another play, when Lions were playing the Bears, and Suh tackled Cutler from the side and his helmet flew right off.

  14. beachjesus says: Oct 20, 2012 4:07 PM

    It has nothing to do with whether or not he intended to rip his helmet off, or whether or not it was intentional – the rules don’t allow for interpretation of intent.

    You can’t hit the quarterback in the head.

  15. bla bla bla says: Oct 20, 2012 4:11 PM

    Packers fan here. I saw nothing wrong with the play. Looked like a good sack and the helmet came off accidentally.

  16. djp519 says: Oct 20, 2012 4:22 PM

    Rodgers is one of the only players in the league to use the older style, single-strap chinstrap, with only one point of connection on each side. That makes his helmet easier to remove with a hit than the average player. A modern-style chinstrap with multiple points of connection with fit more snugly and securely. In other words, while Rodgers has the right to wear whatever equipment he’s comfortable with, it’s not the defensive player’s fault that Rodgers wears a helmet that’s easier to knock off than most.

  17. squared80 says: Oct 20, 2012 4:30 PM

    In true Packer form, we should all just blame the refs.

  18. bobnelsonjr says: Oct 20, 2012 4:42 PM

    The way the definition of “facemasking” has expanded over the past decade, reaching inside the helmet and violently yanking it off is clearly a penalty.

    A 5K fine would have been sufficient.

    It’s a good thing for the Packers that Aaron Rodgers is a tough guy and can handle a lot tougher guys in the NFL than J. Watt and the Texicans.

  19. koenig61 says: Oct 20, 2012 4:53 PM

    Yet when Ngata hit Ben and broke his nose, a lot of posters back then said it was incidental, and I sure dont recall PFT being as upset about it as they are about rodgers. I agree with other posters double standards when it comes to Rodgers and some other players. This is the problem with these fines. There’s no consistency, and they really do need to take intent into consideration. Every time a QB is touched it hit doesn’t mean a defender is playing dirty.

  20. htowntexan says: Oct 20, 2012 5:05 PM

    Did a packer fan hijack the author’s account? Complaining about a play with no flag and no fine. After a huge win no less. Must be estrogen in the water in Green Bay.

  21. pauliepennino says: Oct 20, 2012 5:13 PM

    as a Packers fan, I don’t want to see Rodgers get hurt but that play didn’t call for a flag or a fine…his helmet did not come off due to anything Watt did besides tackle him

  22. kev86 says: Oct 20, 2012 5:18 PM

    Steel chair or flying elbow off a tackles shoulders deserves the belt dance.

  23. hansenbrothers says: Oct 20, 2012 5:29 PM

    Watching the play live, it looked more like Watt had Rodgers wrapped up, and Rodgers slid down while Watt was holding him, resulting in his helmet being ripped off. Maybe the fact that Watt touched his helmet at some point in that sequence could have been deserving of a flag, but as a Packers fan, I certainly don’t feel that it was a dirty hit or that Watt should be fined. Maybe I don’t understand the rule though.

  24. thetokyosandblaster says: Oct 20, 2012 6:06 PM

    htowntexan says:
    Oct 20, 2012 5:05 PM
    Did a packer fan hijack the author’s account? Complaining about a play with no flag and no fine. After a huge win no less. Must be estrogen in the water in Green Bay.

    Someone’s all mad that the Packers made his team look like a bunch of little girls.

  25. packmanfan says: Oct 20, 2012 6:23 PM

    After the Fail Mary incident in Seattle and other bad calls against the Pack, nothing surprises me anymore with the NFL ruling everything against them.
    If they had a multi-billionair private owner or two, calls would be going their way.
    Is this is some kind of NFL revenge to get back at the Packers organization for the recent “stock” sale?

  26. stellarperformance says: Oct 20, 2012 10:41 PM

    I say, tighten your chinstrap Aaron.

  27. golynxgo says: Oct 21, 2012 10:42 AM

    I say that if anyone thinks the refs will make a right call for the Packers is messed in the Head
    Damn Perry got screwed for a perfect hit and fined
    The refs suck and so does The NFL front office

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