The NFL’s discipline process for on-field infractions from time to time falls victim to considerations unrelated to whether discipline of a certain type is warranted. It looks like it has happened again this week, twice.
The first example came from the decision of the league office to not fine Seahawks defensive end Jadeveon Clowney for what appeared to be a blatant violation of the rule against lowering the helmet to initiate contact with an opponent, for the hit that knocked Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz out of Sunday’s wild-card game. But since no penalty was called, a fine would have been characterized as an admission that the officials made a mistake.
The second example comes from the decision of the league office to fine Bills right tackle Cody Ford $28,075 for a blindside block that knocked Buffalo out of range for a potential game-winning field goal in overtime. The officials flagged Ford, prompting a widespread outcry — including a claim from former NFL V.P. of officiating Mike Pereira that it was a bad call.
So, quite possibly, the controversial non-call didn’t draw a fine in order to bolster the perceived accuracy of the non-call, and the controversial call drew a fine in order to bolster the perceived accuracy of the call.
Advantage, Clowney. Disadvantage, Ford.