At times, the NFL’s procedure for determining who does and doesn’t get fined for on-field infractions resembles a game of Pin the Tail on the Donkey. Played by children with inner-ear disorders. During an earthquake.
On Sunday in Pittsburgh, Steelers receiver Antonio Brown’s touchdown catch-run-and-reach for the ages came against a strong defensive effort from a couple of Ravens players. One of them, safety Eric Weddle, so badly wanted that post-game gallon of ice cream that he treated Brown’s facemask like a scoop stuck in a frozen mound of Rocky Road.
The officials didn’t notice it (#shocker), but the replays made it obvious and clear. It wasn’t just a mild pull or tug; it was a hang-his-full-body-weight move that twisted Brown’s neck.
The NFL routinely metes out four-figure punishment for a five-finger grab (OK, four and a thumb) of the cage protecting a player’s face. In Weddle’s case, there was no fine.
While the NFL will disclose fine information in response to requests regarding specific players (giving the Friday exercise the feel of a quiz show), the league never explains the decision. Maybe that’s because the explanation would be a grunt to the cadence of, “I don’t know.”