No Fines

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Last Sunday in one of Baltimore’s biggest games of this young season the Ravens were flagged 9 times for 85 yards. Those penalties coupled with missed opportunities in the red zone led to the Ravens coming up short against an elite opponent once again.

After the game several of marquee players on the defense such as Ray Lewis, Ed Reed and Terrell Suggs made varied comments concerning those calls. They ranged from disappointment to disbelief. Lewis even went so far as to say that the calls were “embarrassing” to the league and Suggs mentioned that perhaps “two-hand touch” would be in order next time the two teams meet.

No doubt to some fans these comments will be looked upon as sour grapes and to a degree that’s understandable. When you lose you are expected to own up to your faults and not displace blame on others.

So I was sure that once Wednesday arrived after the league had reviewed the tapes and digested the team’s concerns that fines would be handed out for criticizing the interpretation of the league’s rules. It’s certainly happened before.

But, yesterday no fines were handed out.

Not one player or coach had to dip into their pocket to pay for their comments.

So what does that mean?

To many, myself included it’s an admission that maybe the players had a point. Sure, safety is always a concern in a violent sport such as football and the rule states that quarterbacks may be tackled from between the helmet to the top of the knees. But both of those penalties were touches to the helmet and the knee. They were not hits. Both penalties were crucial to the outcome of the game as both were on third down and both later led to scores by New England.

Those penalties did not lose the game for the team. They had plenty of opportunities throughout the course of the game to win as well and they didn’t. But in the quest to keep players safer on the field you also have to strike a balance with the integrity and spirit of the game.

It’s a physical game, and recognizing that fact is what makes it so popular. But the NFL will need to continue to fine tune its rules and how its officials interpret them so you allow players to play but also keep major injuries down.

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