20

September

Ruling Down The Merriweather Hits

A lot of fans were angry and confused in regards to the Brandon Merriweather hits on Eddie Lacy and James Starks.  And rightly so, Eddie Lacy suffered a concussion on his first carry and was done for the day and naturally there was a lot of outrage as to why no penalty flag was thrown.

Afterwards, many fans have been calling for more consistency in terms of penalties, as they don’t understand why Merriweather wasn’t penalized on the Lacy hit but Dashon Goldson and Bernard Pollard were.  Obviously Packers fans were a little happier with “karma” being served with Merriweather ultimately knocking himself out on the James Starks’ hit but some Washington Redskins fans have complained that actually Starks should have been penalized for knocking Merriweather out (which is pretty ridiculous since defensive players attack the offense, not the other way around).

I think that realistically fans don’t really understand the rules of the game and only use them when it benefits their team, so in an effort to see what the rules are exactly and how they apply to these hits, I’ve gone through the NFL rulebook and some of their ruling memos in an attempt to see what exactly is going on.

Brandon Merriweather hit on Eddie Lacy (click to see the video)

From the first look I think many fans would claim that this should have been a penalty because Merriweather leads with the crown of his helmet on Eddie Lacy, who appears to trip over Jordy Nelson (who was blocking), gets turned towards the sideline and therefore does not see Merriweather coming.  The rule that most fans are thinking about in this case is Rule 12, Section 2, Article 7 (b): Players in a defenseless posture.

Prohibited contact against a player who is in a defenseless posture is:

(1)Forcibly hitting the defenseless player’s head or neck area with the helmet, facemask, forearm, or shoulder, regardless of whether the defensive player also uses his arms to tackle the defenseless player by encircling or grasping him; or

(2)Lowering the head and making forcible contact with the top/crown or forehead/”hairline” parts of the helmet against any part of the defenseless player’s body; or

6

October

Packers News: Team activates Neal, releases Merling

Packers DE Mike Neal

Packers DE Mike Neal

Defensive end Mike Neal served a four-game suspension to start the 2012 season. And now that he’s eligible to return to the field, the team has activated him to the 53-man roster.

Neal practiced with the team this past week, and he’s now available to play tomorrow against the Indianapolis Colts. Sunday’s game will be a bit of a homecoming for Neal, who was born in Merrillville–about 150 miles north of Indianapolis.

The Packers selected Neal in the second round of the 2010 NFL Draft, but he’s appeared in just nine games in two NFL seasons. Still, Neal remains one of the Packers’ most athletic defensive linemen, and the team hopes he can provide a push up the middle.

Green Bay’s pass rush has registered 15 sacks through four games this season. However, the interior of the defensive line has been unable to generate much of a pass rush. None of the Packers’ six defensive lineman to play this season currently holds a positive grade in the pass rush department, according to Pro Football Focus.

To make room for Neal, the Packers cut veteran defensive end Phillip Merling.

The Packers signed Merling this summer as an unrestricted free agent from the Miami Dolphins. After an impressive training camp, the coaching staff decided to keep Merling over defensive lineman Daniel Muir while Neal served his suspension.

With Neal back in the fold, he and Jerel Worthy will likely be the Packers’ two down linemen in their 2-4-5 nickel alignment. Stay tuned on Sunday for the team’s inactive list to see whether or not Neal is active for week five.

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Follow @MJEversoll

Marques is a Journalism student, serving as the Sports Editor of UW-Green Bay\'s campus newspaper The Fourth Estate and a Packers writer at Jersey Al\'s AllGBP.com. Follow Marques on Twitter @MJEversoll.

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24

June

Examining the Anthony Hargrove “Give Me My Money” Video

Here’s a very interesting breakdown by Mike Florio of the National Football Post of the video the NFL claims shows Anthony Hargrove saying “Give me my money.” I don’t agree with Florio on many things, but I believe he is right on the money (pun intended) with this one.

There is NO way anyone can watch this video and conclude it’s Anthony Hargrove saying those words. It might be him, and it might not. Lets take a look:

 

Today, Florio spoke with NFL General Counsel Jeff Pash, who told Florio this about the video: “…demonstrates Mr. Hargrove’s awareness of the program and his understanding that it existed, and it demonstrates that his statements to our investigators in early 2010 denying the program and saying there was nothing like that  in existence were false.  That is the basis on which the Commissioner imposed discipline on Mr. Hargrove.” Here is that video:

Florio is quick to point out that Pash’s point is pretty much invalid if Hargrove didn’t say it himself, Florio writes,  ”His second point continues to depend, however, on a finding that Hargrove and no one else said, “give me my money.”  And the video simply does not prove that.”

Now, I’m not suggesting there wasn’t a bounty program, we all know there was. I’m only saying that this particular piece of “evidence” the NFL is touting, which happens to affect Anthony Hargrove directly, does not prove what the NFL says it proves.

My take on the video is that it’s Remi Adoyele saying “give me my money.” Ayodele’s head turns towards Vitt just before those words are spoken and then away from Vitt right after those words. Ayodele was one of the players in on the violent hit on Brett Favre that Vitt thought had knocked Favre out of the game. Hargrove wasn’t even in the game on that play. Why would Hargrove have a reason to say “give me my money?”

The NFL is wrong on this, and they know they are wrong – which is why they are refusing to let this matter get taken outside the confines of the NFL. That begs the question, what else are they wrong about? If you want to explore that point further, take a look at this article by Mike Freeman of CBSsports.com. Mike goes down the list of the NFL’s evidence and grades the validity of each one.

18

June

Hargrove to Appeal Suspension Today: Agent Rips Into NFL

Green Bay Packers Anthony Hargrove

Hargrove appeals suspension today.

Anthony Hargrove and the three other players suspended in the “BountyGate” scandal will have their appeals heard today by none other than the man who handed them out, Roger Goodell. That is one big bone of contention for the players and their representatives, who previously pushed for an impartial arbitrator but lost that battle.

According to Keven Seifert of ESPN, Hargrove’s agent, Phil Williams, is not the type of loud-mouthed agent who goes spouting off on a regular basis. Yet, he felt so strongly about this case and the “injustice” being layed down on Hargrove that he put his own reputation on the line with a blistering letter questioning the NFL’s honesty and underhanded tactics.

The NFL waited until just days before the appeal hearing to release their “evidence,” in a rather transparent attempt to make it as difficult as possible for the players’ representatives to build an appeals case. While it’s accepted as fact that a bounty program was in place at New Orleans (as it probably was on many other teams), is it fair to single out just four players for punishment when many more participated?

But beyond those types of questions, my main issue with this whole case is how the NFL (and specifically Roger Goodell)  are suing strong-arm tactics and in the process, eliminating any sense of fairness. This would be like a trial judge who imposed a sentence showing up on the judge’s bench when the same “defendant” appeals their case.

The dictionary definition of a czar is an “autocratic ruler exercising great authority or power.” There is no doubt that in the world of football, Roger Goodell has been a “czar” for quite some time. He is quickly approaching the title of despot – a tyrant or oppressor with absolute power.

Perhaps he’s feeling the pressure of this massive concussion suit and is circling the wagons in every way possible. But there’s still no excuse for being that unfair and frankly, I find it distasteful.

(Going off on a tangent, there is a VERY thought-provoking article at the Business Insider on what they see as potential radical changes that may be coming to the sport of football at every level as a result of the concussion issue. A must-read, whether you agree with their conclusions, or not.)

9

April

Packers Beer Mug Perspective: The Catch and Release of Mike Neal?

Packers Beer MugYesterday afternoon, our fellow blogger in crime Zach Kruse shared an interesting bit of information over at CheeseheadTV.com. Apparently some Green Bay Packers sources indicated to Pro Football Weekly that they “will not be shocked in the least if the team releases injury-prone DE Mike Neal after the draft.”

Neal’s recent violation of the NFL’s performance-enhancing substances policy earned him a four-game suspension to start the 2012 season, and this has most likely put him on the short list in the mind of Ted Thompson. Of course, this is also just adding to the fact that, due to injuries, Mike Neal has only been active for 9 games in his first two years as a pro football player. And in only 3 of those games did he actually record a tackle.

A lot of fans have been hailing him as the second coming of Justin Harrell, though perhaps a bit prematurely. Now, though, it seems he also has a little bit of Johnny Jolly in him, too.

This is not the way to start an NFL career, especially one that carried so much promise (or “potential”) with it. Mike Neal is a second-round draft pick who showed some good flashes of ability in training camp, but not much else. A decent number of fans have already called for his release, and I’m sure they’re happy with this recent news from Pro Football Weekly. Yet the question remains:

Will Mike Neal play for the Green Bay Packers in 2012?

In this installment of the Packers Beer Mug Perspective, we’ll take a look at the issue from both angles, then determine whether our mug is really “half empty” or “half full.”

THE MUG IS HALF FULL

If the situation with former Packers defensive end Justin Harrell is any indicator, Ted Thompson will ride out the prospect of Mike Neal until there is simply no hope left.

While Neal’s situation is different in many ways from what Harrell went through, the similarities are enough to help us draw some conclusions about what Thompson will do. Both missed significant playing time due to injury despite the potential that came with their draft status. (Harrell was selected in the 1st Round of the 2007 NFL Draft at the 16th overall pick, while Neal was taken as the 56th overall pick in the 2nd Round of the 2010 draft.)