Several years ago, the NFL got rid of the distinction between major and minor facemask fouls, with all penalties for grabbing and pulling the bars on the front of the helmet becoming 15-yard personal fouls.
It doesn’t matter whether it’s accidental or intentional; the penalty is the same. When it comes to determining discipline, however, evidence that the foul was flagrant and intentional should influence the league office.
Regarding Broncos cornerback Aqib Talib’s decision to grab and pull and twist the facemask of Panthers receiver Corey Brown in the first half of Super Bowl 50, it’s clear that the conduct was flagrant and intentional — because Talib has admitted it.
“It was B.S. flags,” Talib said regarding a pair of personal fouls called on him in the first half, via NESN.com. “One was on our sidelines [for taunting] — the guy [Brown] was talking on our sideline. One I just did on purpose, and I just had to show him. It’s probably going to be a fine. But, hey, we’re world champs.”
Talib added that he was aware, given Carolina’s field position at the time, that the penalty wouldn’t result in a major loss of field position.
“My teammates knew what it was,” Talib said. “He was on the three-yard line. [With] a personal foul, he was on the one-and-a-half-yard line, so it is what it is.”
What it usually is will be a fine of $8,681 for a first offense. But Talib’s candor, coupled with a one-game suspension during the season for poking Colts tight end Dwayne Allen in the eye, could result in an enhanced penalty, and possibly a suspension.
At a time when the NFL is more sensitive than ever to player safety, Talib has admitted to a deliberate and calculated violation of a rule directly aimed at avoiding potentially serious neck injuries. Under the circumstances, and in light of Talib’s history, he may end up with something stiffer than the NFL’s equivalent of a parking ticket.