With the Pittsburgh Steelers taking the day off from training camp, talk around the city turned beck to some of the event in the preseason opener against the Philadelphia Eagles. In fact, by all accounts it is one play in particular that is raising the ire of Steelers fans.Byron Leftwich had rolled out and released a pass when Eagles cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie left his feet and launched himself at Leftwich. Yes, he was flagged for a personal foul, but for Steelers fans, that is not enough.
In the eyes of local fans, the league office has gone to the extreme in punishing Steelers players for plays of a lot less ferocity than this one, including last years one game suspension of James Harrison for his hit on Cleveland Browns quarterback Colt McCoy on a play that was less cut-and-dry.
In this era of so-called player safety reform, Commissioner Roger Goodell was handed a finable and possibly suspension worthy hit on a quarterback, during a meaningless preseason game and to this point has failed to act. Leading Steelers fans to cry foul, and backing up their beliefs of the one-sided view coming from the league headquarters.
Adding on to these feelings is the fact that Rodgers-Cromartie does not believe the hit was out-of-bounds, and has gone to the media with his outlook. One look at the rulebook shows that he has a skewed view of the play and he may have broke more that one rule on the hit. By rule, a player cannot leave his feet and spring forward prior to a hit using any part of his helmet during contact and hitting a player with unnecessary contact during the act or after a pass is a foul. Roger-Cromartie was guilty of both infractions on one play.
The commissioner’s office has already come under fire with their handling of the officiating and the ongoing lockout in the labor dispute with the union. Now, with a play that breaks all of the player safety rules and a lack of action, fans and players should start to wonder what exactly the emphasis on player safety is all about and what constitutes a fine or suspension. By sitting idly by on this hit, Goodell is putting forth the perception that the parties involved with the act and punishing them is more important than the act itself.
Think About this, had that been Peyton Manning or Tom Brady, would the axe would have already fallen on Rogers-Cromartie? Honestly, it probably would have. The commissioner has a chance to send a message with this play, a message that could last well into the 2012 season. At this point, he seems to be sending the wrong message to both players and fans.
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