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Oh to be in Hawaii in February. Sun, sand, drinks on the beach and football. Football? Yes, football.
The NFL announced their Pro Bowl selections this afternoon. The Pro Bowl is the NFL’s version of the All-Star Game in the NBA and Major League Baseball (MLB). The biggest difference is that it is played after the season is over. While the NBA and MLB have “most” of their big name stars at their All-Star games, that isn’t always the case with the Pro Bowl. (Remember: the game is in Hawaii, after the long season…travel and injuries dictate who shows up and who doesn’t.)
Players, coaches and fans all vote on who they feel has “earned” Pro Bowl selection through their season-long play on the field or, in the case of many fans, who they want “to see” at the Pro Bowl. Not a perfect process, but that is the route the NFL has chosen. There is nothing wrong with that, mind you, but it is a flawed system. Why? Because there’s always someone who gets snubbed. And when the league itself tweets about ‘who got snubbed’, then you know it’s not a perfect system.
As I began to read tweets from various media, players and teams, however, I kept coming back to one thought.
There are quite a few players that made the Pro Bowl that were fined by the NFL this year for various on-field conduct. Example:
—- Denver Broncos’ rookie linebacker, Von Miller, was fined by the NFL for a hit on Carson Palmer in week 9. His fine: $15,000.
—- Baltimore Ravens’ linebacker and perennial Pro Bowler, Ray Lewis, was fined by the NFL for a helmet-to-helmet hit on the Steelers’ Hines Ward in week 9; Ward left game with concussion-like symptoms. His fine: $20,000.
—- Philadelphia Eagles’ defensive end, Jason Babin, was fined by the NFL for his week 4 “hit to the neck area” on San Francisco’s Alex Smith. His fine: $15,000.
—- Pittsburgh Steelers’ safety and another perennial Pro Bowler, Troy Polamalu, was fined by the NFL for his horsecollar tackle on Ravens’ running back, Ricky Williams; week 1. His fine: $15,000.
—- New England Patriots’ defensive end Andre Carter, was fined by the NFL for his helmet-to-the-chest hit on San Diego’s Philip Rivers in week 2. His fine: $15,000.
That is just a small sampling of ten Pro Bowlers that were voted on by the players/coaches/fans that also were fined for hits during games. The NFL fines players as a deterrent for illegal hits which may or may not cause serious injuries to opposing players. In theory, that is sound logic.
What does this mean?
Nothing, really. Or, maybe something.
There are two different ways I could go with this. For one, I could compare the amount of the fines with how much Pro Bowl players make ($50,000 for the winning team’s players, $25,000 for the losing team’s players). This does not take into account any contract incentives they may have (one player has a $150,000 bonus).
Or, I could also say, why fine players in the first place?
If a player’s fine is less than what they could make in the Pro Bowl or through Pro Bowl contract incentives, how exactly are the fines going to prevent any future illegal hits? I haven’t even touched on playoff bonuses, pre-season workout bonuses or the myriad of other bonuses teams, players and agents agree on. But that’s another story for another day.
A player can be rewarded with the Pro Bowl for his season-long play “on the field”. ($50,000/$25,000 per above)
A player can be penalized with a fine during the season for his play “on the field”. ($20,000/$15,000 per above)
Maybe it’s just me but, it doesn’t seem like much of a deterrent does it?