SEATTLE PENALTIES COMING? Peter, when is the league going to do something with regard to the repeated four-game suspensions for the Seahawks? Walter Thurmond just got it. Last year it was Brandon Browner and Richard Sherman. Bruce Irvin, Allen Barbre, Winston Guy and John Moffitt have all been hit with substance-abuse-related issues since 2011. When does this become a repeat offender type of thing in the league’s eyes?
(Editor’s note: After this e-mail arrived, Browner reportedly got busted again and is facing a one-year suspension.)
It’s a valid question. There is a formula that calls for teams to be disciplined in the form of a fine when more than one player on the team in a year is suspended for violating league policy. Irvin, Thurmond and Browner would be three in one year. The NFL is on record as saying that it will consider docking a franchise draft choices if the poor behavior persists, and so that’s certainly going to be a question for the Seahawks going forward.
Seattle likely will be fined more than $200,000 under the league’s disciplinary formula for teams, given that, according to Pro Football Talk, the fines kick in at one-fourth of the second suspended players’ fine, and rise to one-third of the third player’s fine. If Browner is gone for a year, that’s a healthy fine; he makes $773,000 in base salary.
The solution, obviously, is for players to stop messing up. But for now, owner Paul Allen is going to have to write some checks. And if the league is serious about stopping this behavior or at least trying to, there will be more discussion by the 32 owners about docking draft draft choices for a team with so many violators.
BIG NAMES, BIGGER HEADLINES. If Tom Brady or Peyton Manning were knocked out with an uncalled hit to the head like Jason Campbell was in the Browns game, would this have been the lead story to Monday Morning Quarterback?
Well, if Jason Campbell were playing in the Sunday night game with an audience 15 times the size of the Steelers-Browns audience, and if Jason Campbell were a top-10 quarterback in NFL history, yes, it would have been much bigger news. Doesn’t it seem logical to you that a marginal quarterback getting injured in a game wouldn’t get the same headlines as Brady or Manning getting injured? I’m not trying to diminish the importance of Campbell, but it seems pretty logical to me that the bigger the name, the bigger the story.
HE WANTS MORE RAMS. It’d be nice to see a bit more depth about the Rams. I’m actually a Jets fan but at the sports bar each Sunday I watch as much as every game as possible. And I keep finding myself watching the Rams. They are playing terrific defense, running the ball as well as any team, and Kellen Clemens is playing extremely well, far better than the injured Sam Bradford. I understand they are missing your fine 15—the bottom group is awfully tough to gauge at this point—but I think you’d agree that right now they are a very dangerous team. Jeff Fisher seems to be on his way toward building another strong team.
—Cliff, Midlothian, Va.
I respect the job Fisher is doing with a team that is in what I believe to be the toughest division in football. One of the things we learn from watching a team like the Rams is that it’s possible, by using resources in the draft and free agency, to catch up in the NFL pretty fast. Looks to me that’s what the Rams are doing right now.
GREY DAY. Have to say, I was a little disappointed you didn’t mention the Saskatchewan Roughriders’ winning their fourth Grey Cup (in 103 years) on their home field in Regina, with a 45-23 victory over the Hamilton Tiger-Cats, in front of 45,000 screaming Rider fans. This is the equivalent of the Packers winning the Super Bowl at Lambeau, except Rider fans are louder and more enthusiastic, and every one of them was wearing a green jersey. Even the weather cooperated—game-time temperature was about 30 degrees Fahrenheit, warmer than Foxboro!
—Jim Macdonald, Regina, Saskatchewan
Having gone to a Grey Cup about 20 years ago, I really appreciate the festivities and the fun, and I regret that I didn’t mention the Grey Cup in the column. It’s really one of the great events in North American sports. Please remind me next year. Maybe The MMQB will cover it.
SMART FOOTBALL, PLEASE. Sunday night, Broncos defensive back Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie injured himself diving for what would have been a meaningless interception as time expired in the first half, leaving substitutes to be picked apart by Tom Brady after halftime. Several times I have seen defenders cost their team 40 yards of field position by intercepting long fourth-down passes. Is it too much to ask defensive backs to recognize when going for an interception is a dumb play?
Very good point. I’m sure Jack Del Rio noticed it and pointed it out to Rodgers-Cromartie. How wasteful and potentially injurious that was. I always think that one of the selfish things defensive players do is run back interceptions late in games when they should really just dive, because there is no benefit to advancing a ball at that point in the game. I think it’s just too tempting for a defensive back who very rarely gets his hands on the ball in the open field. But it needs to be driven home that plays like that can hurt the team far more in the long run.
PUNCH OUT. It seems that we’re seeing more balls stripped out of the hands of offensive players this year than at any time in the past. You have to figure that defensive players have been trying to strip the ball since George Halas was a young pup. Why are strip moves succeeding so frequently now? Coaches preach ball security but their sermons seem to be falling on deaf ears. What gives?
—Joe Connor, Morris Plains, N.J.
Very good question. What I think is happening is that there is a mania in training camps every year on dislodging the ball and practicing forcing turnovers. Some players, like Bears cornerback Charles Tillman, make names for themselves with the art of forcing fumbles. Teams realize the value of turnovers and are spending more and more practice time working on ripping and tugging and punching balls out. That’s all I can figure about it.