30

September

A “Fine” Mess: Why are the Packers Prey for Dirty Hits?

 

Why are the Packers falling victim to hits like this? Their style of play could be partially to blame.

The Green Bay Packers are 1-2 so far in 2013. With this past weekend being Green Bay’s bye week, every aspect of the team has been broken down over and over by a variety of writers.

How the offense is doing, what the defense needs to improve on and the Packers’ lack of a kick returner has been talked about ad nauseum since Green Bay’s defeat to the Cincinnati Bengals in Week 3. They are all important questions that definitely need to be answered when determining the 2013 Packers’ fate.

However, there is one question no one seems to be asking and it’s a curious one at that: Why are the Packers falling victim to dirty plays by their opponents every week?

It’s something you may not have noticed, but it’s the truth. In every single game Green Bay has played so far this season, someone on the opposite sideline has been fined for some type of illegal hit on a Packer player.

In Week 1, while Clay Matthews was also fined $15,000 for his sideline hit on Colin Kaepernick, San Francisco 49ers players racked up over $20,000 in fines themselves. Wide receiver Anquan Boldin was fined $7,875 for what the league called a late hit on cornerback Jarrett Bush and linebacker Ahmad Brooks was fined $12,750 for a bone crushing roughing the passer penalty in the second quarter.

Washington Redskins safety Brandon Merriweather  was fined $42,000 for a helmet-to-helmet collision with Packers running back Eddie Lacy that left the rookie with a concussion.  Merriweather later took himself out of the game with another helmet-to-helmet hit against James Starks.

The Bengals in Week 3 completed the trifecta when linebacker Vontaze Burfict was fined $31,000 for two hits, one to the head of Packers wide receiver James Jones and a low blow to tight end Ryan Taylor. On the Taylor hit, Burfict was not penalized but Taylor was for his retaliatory shove. Taylor however was not fined by the league.  George Iloka was fined $15,000 for the hit that gave tight end Jermichael Finley a concussion.

It’s happened three games in a row, so that leads to the theory this isn’t just some kind of coincidence and something else is at work here.

27

January

Aaron Rodgers and Illegal Hits: When Will the NFL Walk the Talk?

When I read that Chicago Bears defensive end Julius Peppers was fined $10,000 by the NFL today for a helmet-to-helmet hit on Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers in Sunday’s NFC Championship, one thought and one thought only went through my head:

YOU HAVE GOT TO BE KIDDING ME!

For a player who recently signed a huge free agent contract that could total $91.5 million, $10,000 is like pennies to you and me. During the regular season, the NFL apparently made it crystal clear to teams and players that hits that involve the leading of the helmet would not be tolerated and would be met with stiff fines and possible suspensions.

If $10,000 is a stiff fine to multi-millionaires, then I’m the King of England.

Look at Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker James Harrison (who the Packers will face in Super Bowl XLV). He has been fined for times for illegal hits and the fines total $125,000 for an average of roughly $31,000 per offense. Again, pocket change to the millionaire players of the NFL.

But let’s get back to Peppers, and more importantly for Packer fans, Rodgers.

This is not the first time Peppers has rung Rodgers’ “bell.” In a regular season game at Lambeau Field in 2008, Peppers was flagged for a bruising hit on Rodgers out of bounds when he played for the Carolina Panthers. That hit can be seen here: Julius Peppers Nails Aaron Rodgers

If the NFL really is taking multiple offenses seriously, why aren’t they looking at past seasons so they can definitively establish a pattern of illegal hits from a player? As a lot of fans are so fond of saying when criticizing coaches, it’s not one game—it’s the “body of work.”

Worse yet, this fine once again raises a question that Packer fans have been asking over the past year and maybe more:

“Why is the league so interested in protecting 31 other quarterbacks but not Aaron Rodgers?”

Is some of this fan protectionism of “their” guy? Possibly. Have other quarterbacks taken shots like Rodgers has and not had a flag thrown? No question.

Still, it seems like Rodgers takes more illegal hits that don’t get called than any other quarterback in the league. The question everyone is asking is: why?