I’ve always been a fan of the stiff arm, so it’s with a measure of disappointment that I pass along word from Ravens running back Ray Rice that the NFL fined him for a stiff arm this season.
Rice told 105.7 The Fan that he was fined $7,500 for a stiff arm against the Rams. Video of the play is here, and although it was actually Rams cornerback Bradley Fletcher who was called for a facemasking penalty on the play, Rice also grabbed Fletcher’s facemask, and that’s why Rice was fined.
Fining an offensive player for grabbing a defensive player’s facemask during a stiff arm isn’t unprecedented: Devin Hester, Joe Webb and Kevin Ogletree are among the players who have previously been fined for the same infraction.
But Rice’s fine is a reminder of one of the ways the game has changed. One of my favorite NFL Films features is this celebration of the stiff arm, which includes dozens of images of running backs sticking their hands in the faces of their opponents.
“The game has changed, but the stiff arm remains what it’s always been: A tough and trusty tool,” narrator Steve Sabol says.
But it’s not just a tough and trusty tool anymore. Now it can also be a penalty.