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NFL Reduces James Harrison's Fine For Hit On Mohamed Massaquoi

James Harrison's fine for his hit on Browns receiver Mohamed Massaquoi, which was the heftiest fine of the many he received this season, has been reduced from $75,000 to $50,000. The NFL also reduced the amounts of fines to the Falcons' Dunta Robinson and the Patriots' Brandon Meriweather. The league explains that the players' behavior was the main reason why:

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"Cottrell consulted with Commissioner (Roger) Goodell about reducing Harrison's fine to $50,000 and the commissioner fully supported the decision," the statement reads. "Cottrell said he reduced the fines because the players said they understood the rules and have made efforts to adjust their techniques to play within the rules that protect player safety."

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That's nice, I guess, but it doesn't make up for what the NFL has done to Harrison this year. The league took an obvious and pervasive problem - head injuries, which are pretty terrifying but which would seem to come with the territory when your game is built around heavily-muscled 300-pound men slamming into each other at top speed - and effectively made it the fault of one man, who was fined over and over, and his team, which was repeatedly penalized. The league is right to recognize head injuries as a serious problem, and it is right to take steps to fix it, but the existence of this problem is not the fault of James Harrison. Harrison was not the villain here. The game of football itself was the problem, and it's going to take some creativity and many years of change to really fix it. The NFL could have been a lot more forward-thinking in how it engaged with this issue, but instead they just blamed Harrison and the Steelers, which didn't really fix things but which turned out to be a lot easier.

Photographs by dizfunk used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.