The past few weeks the higher-ups in professional sports have levied some pretty unreasonable fines on several notable Philadelphia athletes. The first, Andres Nocioni, drew the wrath of the NBA lawmakers by throwing his mouthpiece into the stands. The second, Asante Samuel, was in hindsight, robbed of his money by the contact sensitive NFL. Both of these fines brought into perspective the so-called New World Order in professional sports. An organization that hands out fines like breath mints, and in my opinion, takes some of the passion out of the game.
Now let me explain myself real quick before I get the following phone call:
Friend: So I saw your article...
Me: Oh Yea?
Friend: Yea...Umm, are you saying that players should run around lawless?
Me: Not at all, there needs to be structure, but are you saying these fines are fair?
Friend: Fair or not, rules are in place for a reason.
Me: Wow, a little close minded huh?
Friend: I don't think I want to be your friend anymore.
I am not advocating an unsupervised, violent future in sports. I understand fines for dirty play and off the field incidents are necessary. I agree that players need to be held accountable for their actions. However, some of these ticky tack fines are taking the passion out of the game.
Let's start with Nocioni. He in frustration took his mouthpiece out and hurled it into the stands. This is an act I am all too familiar with. During my playing career, my mouthpiece was often tossed in disgust of a bad call. The only difference between my situation and Nocioni's was that his mouthguard landed in the stands. In fact, according to The Philadelphia Inquirer's Kate Fagan, the mouthpiece was caught by a fan then returned to a Sixers official. My mouthpieces usually headed towards the stands, but due to its lightweight design and my poor throwing arm, landed several feet short.
I understand the interaction between fans and NBA players need to be carefully monitored ever since that fateful day in November of 2004...But a mouthpiece? Would the fine be less if Nocioni allowed the fan to keep it as a souvenir? Where do the fines end? Should players be fined for tossing their headbands, wristbands or jerseys into the stands? These products are usually covered in sweat, germs and bacteria. Is a mouthpiece wrapped in a napkin worse than a 10-year-old putting on LeBron's sweat-soaked headband every day for the next month?
It's not just the fact that Nocioni was fined; it's the fact that he was fined $25,000. That is a hefty price to pay considering he was fined $480 for a DWI last year. Is it me or do those numbers seem off? If Nocioni were fined $480 for the mouthpiece incident and $25,000 for the DWI, I would completely understand... unfortunately that was not the case.
For Asante Samuel, his fine was issued for a helmet-to-helmet hit on a defenseless receiver. Not only was this fine unreasonable, it should not have been called a penalty. The play in question occurred during the Philadelphia Eagles' Sunday night game against the New York Giants last week. Samuel timed receiver Derek Hagan's route perfectly, led with his shoulder and delivered a jaw dropping hit into Hagan's chest. At the end of the collision Samuel's helmet made incidental contact with Hagan's face mask. Only after Hagan stayed down was the flag for unsportsmanlike thrown.
Not to beat a dead horse, but what is going on with Roger Goodell and these defenseless receiver fines? Can someone please check in on him? Does he have outstanding gambling debts? Next time he is on TV, can someone check for broken thumbs? Why else are these fines so expensive and frequent? I understand trying to prevent concussions, but when did the line between legal and illegal hits become so blurred?
And why so much irregularity in the amount of these fines? Andre Johnson and Cortland Finnegan were fined $25,000 a piece for their helmet tossing fist fight this past Sunday. Richard Seymour was fined the same total for cold cocking Ben Roethlisberger last weekend. Yet, Asante Samuel was fined $40,000 for a legal hit. Samuel's hit was not even the worst helmet to helmet hit that game. Ellis Hobbs was nearly paralyzed when Giants back up defensive end Dave Tollefson delivered a spearing helmet to helmet hit. Not only was a fine not issued, but the play went un-flagged.
Where is the consistency NFL?
Where is the consistency professional sports?