In 1995, at Three Rivers Middle School located in Miami Heights/Cleves, Ohio, Mr. Ryder taught his sixth grade history class what ex post facto was. For those of you who were not in this class, ex post facto is a legal term. Ex post facto is a law that retroactively changes the legal ramifications of relationships that existed prior to the enactment of the law. Ex post facto will often times criminalize actions that were legal when committed, but committed in such a severe manner that it may change or increase the punishment prescribed for a crime by adding new penalties or extending terms. To make a long story short, ex post facto is illegal and most common laws do not allow retroactive criminal legislation to apply to events that occurred prior to the judicial decision. What that means is if a man wants to wear an all pink jump suit on Monday and the government wants to pass a law on Tuesday saying that men may not wear all pink jump suits, that man may not be punished in any way, shape, or form on Wednesday for what he did on Monday unless he commits that crime after Tuesday. Roger Goodell of the National Football League must not have attended Three Rivers Middle School for sixth grade.
On Tuesday, October 19th, 2010, three NFL players were fined a total of $175,000 for “illegal hits” from the games they played on October 17th, 2010. You ask why these hits were “illegal”. According to the commissioner of the National Football League, these hits were of a violent nature. Football is a sport of will and determination. Football is a sport of perseverance and strength. Football is a sport of violence. For those who don’t know what violence means, it is an adjective that describes an event marked by extreme force or sudden intense activity. Violence is said to be emotionally agitated to the point of loss of self-control. With that being said, another man doing what he is being paid to do, is not violent. When a man steps on that field and he is doing what he can to put food on his children’s plate and clothes on their back, is not violence. Violence is four to five police officers beating a man senseless on an L.A. freeway. Violence is police officers shooting a young man in an alley who is reaching to pull out his wallet. Violence is the UFC. Violence is the sport of boxing. Violence is stores allowing and not preventing stampedes on Black Friday outside of their store. That is what violence is and yet our culture is not trained to turn our heads and look away nor is our culture taught to stop it, no, instead we are conditioned to be in awe of it and entertained by it.
Yet, three grown men are being fined for playing the game the same way that all the greats before them like Dick Butkus, Dick Lane, Mike Singletary, Jack Tatum, and Steve Atwater did. Out of the three, only Brandon Meriweather’s hit seemed to be the only hit that violated a previous NFL regulation prior to the “violent hit” violation and that is the helmet to helmet rule. Meriweather flagrantly lead with his helmet multiple times during the New England Patriot’s game versus the Baltimore Ravens. The most notable hit was against the Raven’s tight end, Todd Heap which sent Heap’s mouth piece flying and knocked him out the game. The problem is, based on the rules and regulations of the NFL, a violation of this infraction warrants at a minimum, the team be charged a 15 yard penalty and at the max, there is a 15 yard penalty to followed by an immediate ejection of the offender. Neither of these penalties happened Sunday against Brandon Meriweather, yet due to the new “Violent Hit” rule, Meriweather was fined fifty thousand dollars.
The next, somewhat “legitimate” fine was to Pittsburgh Steeler’s linebacker James Harrison for his hit on Cleveland Brown’s wide receiver Mohamed Massaquoi. Harrison’s fine was a hefty seventy-five thousand dollars because Harrison was considered to be a repeat offender. The only issue is if you look at the video, Harrison purposely avoids leading with his helmet by putting his forearms between himself and Massaquoi. Not only does he avoid hitting helmet to helmet which could of paralyzed either himself or Massaquoi, he barely extends his arms, not to inflict harm on Massaquoi, but to save his own arms from being broken by the impact. James Harrison makes $755,000 dollars a year which is a lot to someone sitting behind a desk and not taking hits to the head every Sunday, but that equals out to $44,411 a week. If you minus the taxes and agent fees, James Harrison was just fined a two game check on Tuesday, for a hit that was legal on Sunday.
The last hit by Dunta Robinson of the Atlanta Falcons was the only hit that was flagged for a 15 yard penalty and by far the most legal of all three of the hits. At no point in time does Robinson launch himself into Eagle’s wide receiver DeSean Jackson, nor do their helmets collide. What does happen is that Robinson’s shoulder hits Jackson square in the sternum forcing him to the ground shoulder blades first. This hit according to the rules and regulations of the NFL on Sunday is a perfectly legal hit, but because it looked so bad, it was flagged even though it was legal and then on Tuesday Robinson was hit with a fifty thousand dollar fine.
Police officers are trained to aim center mass when firing upon a deadly perp. Are they themselves fined when they shoot a man in the leg making his leg useless for months because a vital artery was damaged? They are not because it is a part of their job. If it was not a part of their job on Sunday, but made a part of their job on Tuesday, they would still not be fined on Wednesday. Do the NFL players of today have jobs that are as important or vital as the police officers and armed forces members of our great country today, no, not even close, but the rules of ex post facto and the laws we live by apply to all citizens. Do not make up a law or rule on Tuesday and then punish a man for it when in your eyes he committed it on Sunday. Too many men and women have died to preserve the liberties, freedoms, and rights that we as Americans hold dear to us today. We will not stand by and let them being taken away by anyone.