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?

1

December

2010 Green Bay Packers Still Control Their Own Playoff Destiny.

Just win baby. After losing to the Atlanta Falcons, the Green Bay Packers currently trail the Chicago Bears by one game in the NFC North standings. Even if things stay like that going into the final game match up vs. Chicago, a win by the Packers in that game would crown them NFC North Champs, by way of a series of tiebreakers.

This just made my day yesterday when it was reported by Bill Huber on PackerReport.com (subscription required). Here are the details.

If Green Bay beats Chicago in the season finale at Lambeau Field and if nothing else changes in the standings, the teams would end up tied. The first tiebreaker is head-to-head, which would be tied 1-1. The next tiebreaker is division record, which would be tied, as well. The next tiebreaker is common opponents: the six division games and four matchups apiece against the NFC East (Dallas, Giants, Washington and Philadelphia) and AFC East (Buffalo, Miami, New England and Jets). That tiebreaker would be tied, as well – the Packers are 7-3 (games remaining against Chicago, Detroit, Giants and New England) and the Bears are 7-2 (games remaining against all three North teams, New England and the Jets). That would leave it to conference record. Both teams have three losses in NFC games, so a Green Bay win in the finale would be the difference.

I don’t know about you, but this allowed me to breathe a sigh of relief. Knowing that the Packers don’t necessarily have to get even up with the Bears before their meeting gives me a new confidence that the Packers will indeed be the NFC Conference Champions in 2010.

Have a Happy Day!

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Jersey Al Bracco is the founder and editor of AllGreenBayPackers.com, and the co-founder of Packers Talk Radio Network. He can be heard as one of the Co-Hosts on Cheesehead Radio and is the Green Bay Packers Draft Analyst for Drafttek.com.

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