It has been reported that Patriots’ DT Vince Wilfork will not receive a suspension but will be fined for his hit on Broncos’ QB Jay Cutler. The hit was caught by a coaches’ camera where, reportedly, Wilfork blatantly hit Cutler in the head with an elbow. Meanwhile, the NFL will not release the amount of the fine until Friday, but some media outlets are reporting the fine will be $35,000.00. The announcement comes on the heels of a meeting between Commissioner Roger Goodell and Wilfork, a meeting that Wilfork called “very productive”.
Of course it was, he wasn’t suspended. And why not? The league, Goodell in particular, has wanted to protect the safety of the league’s players. Wilfork, meanwhile, is starting to build himself a reputation as a ‘dirty’ player. Last season he was fined $37,500 last season for 4 incidences–though after appeal the final amount was $27,500–and an August article in the Boston Herald quoted Wilfork as saying, “I’d never alter my game just because of something like that. That was in the past. I don’t really Care about it.” It’s obvious that Wilfork has little to no regard for the compromised safety of players because of his actions. Why else has he been swinging the peoples' elbow into head and knees for the past season and a half? There is, however, a feeling amongst football people that the next incident will result in Goodell suspending Wilfork. What is Goodell Dean Wormer and now he is placing Vince Wilfork on ‘double secret probation’? Hasn’t Wilfork burned up his chances over the past year and a half?
The point is this. If the league truly wants to crack down on late or malicious hits, and wants to protect its players as much as it can in a violent game, then it needs to develop some consistency in handing out suspensions. Fines really don’t work as a deterrent, in fact they are a joke, but suspensions will send a message. When you start talking about suspensions for a player, you start talking about the organization stepping in and at least speaking with that player because the team then feels a loss with that player missing a game or games. Look at it this way. Let’s say that you are the coach/GM/owner of a team, and you’re A#1 guy does something on the field that warrants league intervention. The league comes to you and says that the player in question will either be suspended for 4 games, or will be fined a ridiculous amount, say $500,000 (just for the sake of argument). Which would you rather have? I'd help the player pay the fine to keep them on the field. On top of that, most of the time the fines represent a meager percentage of what a player makes. In the case with Wilfork, the fine will account for only 2.5% of his salary. Wow, that’ll send a message. If the league wants to send a message, then Wilfork should have been suspended. Think of the impact of not having him against the Colts and how that may cause him to change his act--at least get him thinking about it because the fines aren't working. Otherwise you are telling Wilfork and the rest of the league that you can try to crack a someone's head open, and you may not suffer for it.
So long as the league continues its practice of dolling out suspensions on an as it pleases basis, the integrity of the league and the commissioner will be called into question. Homerism can only go so far before you get to a point where players on your team start to become an embarrassment.
I would also like to note that the "World Series Champion" Phillies finished with an 8-12 record against the AL, and that I am convinced Brett Myers and Bert from Sesame Street are the same person.
Give into the power of the uni-brow.