Mark Schlereth’s rant about the NFL

ESPN commentator and former player Mark Schelereth was asked what he thought about James Harrison being fined $75 K for two dangerous hits in Week 6.

I agree that the NFL shouldn’t profit off of DVDs glorifying big hits if they are trying to clean up the contact over the middle, and I agree with Schlereth’s issue with the NFL’s health care/disability policy, but one thing I loathe in debate is when one side freaks out over incremental change by taking the opposing viewpoint to the extreme.

Example #1: “You take all the contact away, guess what you are? You’re soccer. That’s why Americans love the NFL.”

Is anyone advocating taking “all the contact away”? Of course not. This kind of rhetoric doesn’t help the discussion. At all. He also speaks for all fans, when he has no business doing so. I don’t watch the NFL for the big hits. I watch for great playcalling, great runs, great throws and great catches. I don’t like to see a defenseless wide receiver get laid out (and possibly injured) when he tries to catch a pass over the middle. Go ahead and tackle the guy without leading with your helmet or your shoulder. Better yet, make a play on the freaking ball.

Example #2: “You know what NFL players should to on Sunday night or Monday night? Play two-hand touch. Go out on the field and nobody hit anybody, and let’s see how popular your game is, if nobody is hitting anybody.”

Again, who is saying that “nobody should hit anybody”? By taking the opposing viewpoint to the extreme, Schlereth hopes to make it sound absurd and gain support, but it only serves to lower the level of discourse.

Another statement bothers me:

“I’m all for fining guys who are malicious, with malicious intent.”

James Harrison readily admitted that he’s out to hurt people, so Schlereth should reconsider his defense of the Steeler linebacker.

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Steelers’ Harrison contemplating retirement after receiving latest fine

DENVER - AUGUST 29: Linebacker James Harrison  and defensive end Brett Keisel  of the Pittsburgh Steelers lead the defense against the Denver Broncos during preseason NFL action at INVESCO Field at Mile High on August 29, 2010 in Denver, Colorado. The Broncos defeated the Steelers 34-17. (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)

In a recent radio interview, Steelers’ linebacker James Harrison said that he would rather retire than be hamstrung by the kinds of rules that the NFL is now levying on players. He was fired $75,000 on Tuesday for hits on Browns’ receivers’ Mohammad Massaquoi and Joshua Cribbs, yet he wasn’t flagged for either play on Sunday.

From the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette:

“How can I continue to play this game the way that I’ve been taught to play this game since I was 10 years old?” Harrison said on Sirius XM Radio this morning. “And now you’re telling me that everything that they’ve taught me from that time on, for the last 20-plus years, is not the way you’re supposed to play the game anymore. If that’s the case I can’t play by those rules. You’re handicapping me.”

Bill Parise, Harrison’s agent, confirmed that the linebacker is contemplating retirement, which is why he met with Tomlin this morning.

“That’s exactly true,” Parise said. “He met with the coach and left for today. He’s in the process of contemplating is it possible to play football under these new rules . . . ‘if I go to work and tackle somebody and get a fine.'”

In some respects, I feel for Harrison. Football has always been a survival-of-the-fittest game and a defender’s job is to ensure that the offense doesn’t pick up first downs (which are only 10 yards apart, mind you). You’re supposed to be punished when you go over the middle and with how fast the players are these days, concussions could happen whether they’re of the helmet-to-helmet variety or not.

It’s football – it’s supposed to hurt. And I don’t blame any defender for being upset that the league is punishing them for handing out big hits, as long as they’re not cheap shots.

But one thing Harrison and his agent need to realize is that the NFL is trying to figure out a way to keep their players as safe as possible. Football is a violent game and it’ll always be a violent game, but the league is trying to find answers to its growing concussion problems.

Unfortunately, they haven’t found a reasonable solution and they don’t appear to be close to finding one either. I don’t think fining players is the answer, but Harrison can’t take this personally – this isn’t about him. This is about the league trying to keep its players as healthy and as safe as possible (even if that’s a daunting task).

2009 fantasy football is coming aoon—a look back at 2008 defenses

Last month we started looking at last season’s statistics for position players in fantasy football land, and today we’ll look at a position many often overlook. That’s fantasy defenses, which can sometimes put up just enough points to earn your team a victory once in a while. It’s always smart to try and grab one of the top units, although as we’ve seen before, things change, sometimes drastically, from year to year with fantasy D’s. Me? I like to grab my defense before my kicker. This list is based on point totals from one of my leagues, so keep in mind that stats vary from year to year.

1. Baltimore Ravens—The Ravens’ defense is perennially awesome, and we’ll find out for sure how much of that was due to former coordinator Rex Ryan, who is now the head honcho for the Jets. Ryan took plenty of players with him too, like LB Bart Scott and S Jim Leonhard, but the Ravens still have Ray Lewis, Ed Reed and Terrell Suggs. Reed just keeps getting better every year, and his sick nose for the ball is one reason the Ravens had a league high 26 picks. They will keep scoring low as always, but their 34 sacks last season isn’t much to get excited about. Bottom line: The Ravens won’t be a number one this year, but are still top 10.

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Steelers’ Harrison refuses to visit White House with team

It’s always been tradition that the team that wins the Super Bowl is invited to the White House every year. But Steelers’ linebacker James Harrison will pass on the visit once again this year, just as he did when Pittsburgh won the Super Bowl in 2006.

“This is how I feel — if you want to see the Pittsburgh Steelers, invite us when we don’t win the Super Bowl. As far as I’m concerned, he [Obama] would’ve invited Arizona if they had won,” said Harrison.

Harrison also skipped the Steelers’ visit to the White House in 2006 following their victory in Super Bowl XL.

Harrison is getting way too deep with this line of thinking. If a team wins the Super Bowl, then they get invited to the White House. End of story. I guess on some level I understand his point of view in that every NFL player should have the chance to visit our nation’s capital regardless of whether or not they win the Super Bowl, but his overall stance on this subject is weird.

Plus, history was made this year when Obama was voted in – why wouldn’t you want to participate in that? I would think he would want to tell his grandchildren some day that he met the our first black president instead of saying, “Well, I could have met President Obama, kids. But he would have invited the Cardinals had they won and that just doesn’t sit right with me.” Oooookay.

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