Ravens safety Ed Reed’s one game suspension for an illegal hit on a defenseless receiver was cut to $50,000 on appeal. Browns safety T.J. Ward has been fined half that amount, prior to appeal, for a hit on Cowboys wideout Kevin Ogletree.
Like Reed, Ward isn’t happy.
“It’s not fair,” Ward said, via Mary Kay Cabot of the Cleveland Plain Dealer. “Maybe if I tried to celebrate or something afterwards, I could see it. But I thought it was a clean, fair hit and I walked away. It’s not my fault. He was falling as I went to hit him.”
Ward says the league called the hit an illegal blow to the head. Ward believes he didn’t hit Ogletree in the head. The video suggests otherwise.
Ward also objected to the fact that the fine was enhanced by Ward’s hit on former Bengals receiver Jordan Shipley in 2010. “[I]t wasn’t even similar to the hit I had before,” Ward said. “I could see if it was a repeat offense for the same year. But that was three years ago.”
Actually, it was two years ago. And it falls within the three-season window that the league considers when determining whether a player is a repeat offender.
Regardless, Ward doesn’t think the punishment will reduce illegal hits.
“It’s not going to change it,” Ward said. “Things are going to happen. The next thing you’re going to see if guys with blown-out knees, because they’re going to start getting hit low. I think it’s taking away from the game: If I hit you in your chest and your facemask touches this much?”
Though players don’t like it, the sooner they accept it, the better off they’ll all be. Every week, we see defensive backs passing on a helmet-first missile shot for a shoulder-to-shoulder hit. The more the league emphasizes this technique, and the more that coaches teach how to hit the right way, the fewer illegal hits (and fines and suspensions) we’ll see.