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:


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?



Packers Penalty Palooza – Where Do They Go From Here?

In 2007, the Green Bay Packers were 4th in the NFL in penalties. In 2008, they moved up to 2nd, and in 2009, the Packers claimed the top spot in the entire NFL.  (BTW, for a more detailed look at the Packers penalty history with Mike McCarthy, take a look at this article written in June.)

With their recent domination of the NFL penalty stats, are there more hills to climb? What could the Packers do to solidify their legacy of  penalty prowess. Wait, I’ve got it! They can set new Packers all-time  records.

Well, one down already:

Most penalties in a single game -  (18)  in franchise history. What a great bullet point on your coaching resume. The record was previously held by the 1945 Packers. Looking at the roster for that team, about the only recognizable names are Ted Fritsch and Don Hutson (this was Hutson’s last season and he was strictly a kicker that year).  With the roster depleted by WWII, this was surely some ugly football being played in the NFL. And now the 2010 Packers can say they were just as ugly on this one day.

So what’s left?

Most Penalties in a Season – The current record of 135 is held by the 5-9-1 1987 Packers. You remember that team, don’t you? Names like Randy Wright, Paul Ott Carruth, Phil Epps, Alfonso Carreker. Ahh, the good old days…  (actually, that team did have one of my all-time favorite linebacker corps, with John Anderson, Brian Noble, Tim Harris and Johnny Holland. Other than that, though…).  Mike McCarthy’s  Packers did manage 118 penalties in 2009, but you would think they need to get their penalty-producing asses in gear to catch that 1987 team. Amazingly, though, the Packers need only to maintain their current penalty per game average (8.6667)  to finish the season with 138 penalties. Hey, that’s not unreasonable!

Most Penalty Yards in a season – (1103 yards) Also currently held by  the 1987 packers . Boy, that team was something, wasn’t it? But let’s not shortchange the 2010 Packers. It was only last season that the Packers were penalized  for 1057 yards, currently good for second place in franchise history. Now this is a very attainable goal to shoot for. Go Pack!