On Wednesday, Hines Ward lashed out against the NFL and its apparent disparate treatment of players and personal foul calls.
“They’re hypocrites. You say one thing and do another. You talk about safety, but you add on two games. You talk about you don’t want players to drink, but our major endorsement is Coors Light. That’s all you see is beer commercials. You say you don’t want us to gamble, but then you have spread games on the line. For us as players, we just play football, and whatever the NFL decides to do, we’re going to do,” said Ward.
Ward feels, as do many Steeler fans, that the NFL is saying one thing but practicing another, evident by the recent fines and punishment levied against LB James Harrison. Ward wasn’t finished, either.
“It’s going to change the outcome; somebody’s going to lose a game because of it,” said Ward. “It’s going to be a huge play in a playoff game; somebody’s going to hit a quarterback or do something and the referee is going to be too scared to call it. So he’s going to call it anyway so he can save his tail. He (the player) may not even get fined or not, but it will come down to the outcome of a ballgame.”
Whether or not Ward’s perception is true or not is debatable, but it is hard to argue when Harrison is being fined, seemingly for different reasons each week, while similar plays on QB Ben Roethlisberger are being only flagged or not punished at all.
Oakland Radier Richard Seymour recently made news when he open-hand punched Roethlisberger in the face well after the whistle, and Houston Texan Andre Johnson and Tennessee Titan Cortland Finnegan recently were involved in an actual fist fight on the field of play. None of these players were fined more than Harrison, and none were suspended for anything longer than the rest of the game in which they were playing.
Ward is not alone; as noted below, even rival Terrell Suggs is suggesting some sort of bias against Harrison. Maybe this weeks Steelers-Ravens game will turn into a meeting of friends instead of a matchup of rivals. Then again, probably not.