When Packers linebacker Nick Perry found out about his $15,750 fine for a hit on Colts quarterback Andrew Luck, he said that he needs to be “more focused on making a play without the head.”
Watching the play that earned Perry the fine, it doesn’t seem like he does anything particularly wrong in that regard. Perry’s technique looks sound, but his helmet appears to ride up into Luck’s. That’s enough to earn him a flag and a fine, although his position coach thinks the NFL’s decision to levy that fine is misguided.
Kevin Greene was a pretty good pass rusher back in the day and feels bad for today’s pass rushers because he thinks they play in a league that punishes players for the wrong kinds of things. Hits like Perry’s are accidental in Greene’s mind and he doesn’t believe the NFL can erase them from the game.
“I think it’s unfortunate for today’s pass rusher because a lot of times we know the rules, but the game moves at such a high, energetic, physical tempo and a lot of these hits are totally accidental – not malicious,” Greene said, via Weston Hodkiewicz of the Green Bay Press-Gazette. “People are trying to control an accident. You cannot control an accident. You can control malicious (hits). I understand fining people for malicious (hits), but you can’t control accidents – hence the world accident. It’s like a car wreck. No one wants to be in a car wreck. I don’t know a lot of people who want to maliciously wreck the car. It’s an accident. They are trying to control an accident, which is an uncontrollable occurrence. They’re trying to control it with penalties and/or fines. It can’t be done. In my 15 years, I’m convinced you cannot control an accident.”
To continue Greene’s car wreck analogy, you can control against an accident by being so cautious that it takes you three hours to go 15 miles. An NFL defender could do the same thing, although he wouldn’t continue being an NFL defender for very long if he did decide to go that route. So they’ll keep playing fast and there are going to be hits like Perry’s in the future. Greene’s almost certainly right that there’s no way to legislate such plays out of the game as long as it moves at a high speed, but it’s just as certain that the NFL is going to continue to fine the players who dish them out.