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NFL To Fine Teams For Illegal Hits; Could This Compound Steelers' Problems?

USA Today reports that the NFL is likely to begin fining teams, rather than just individual players, when they have too many illegal hits. The team most likely to be affected would, of course, be the Steelers, who bore the brunt of the NFL's inconsistent application of its policies throughout the 2010 season.

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Details are yet to be finalized, but [NFL senior vice president Adolpho] Birch said that teams crossing a certain, yet-to-be-revealed threshold for cumulative personal fouls -- such as unnecessary roughness, spearing and late hits -- would be penalized.

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Although Birch didn't rule out NFL commissioner Roger Goodell using measures beyond fines as punishment, such as stripping a team of draft picks, the discipline is expected to be monetary.

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Birch suggests elsewhere that if such a policy had been in effect last year, "three or four" teams would have received fines. The Steelers certainly would have been one of those. James Harrison was fined repeatedly next year, and while there's no doubt that his hits could be punishing, he was being fined the same amount or more for hard hits between the whistles as Richard Seymour was for sucker-punching Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger after the whistle, or Cortland Finnegan and Andre Johnson got for beating the crap out of each other. The NFL's treatment of Harrison in particular and the Steelers in general seemed to have less to do with their actual transgressions and more to do with putting a face on an issue that had become problematic to the NFL.

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The league hasn't shown any indication it can be consistent or fair in its punishments, so I worry that punishing teams in addition to players will just make things worse. And stripping a team of draft picks is simply insane. I'm all for cracking down on violent hits, but I wish I could have faith that the NFL knew how to do that.

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Via.

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