The Browns are certainly familiar this season with violent hits and the consequences that come with them. Earlier this season, Browns rookie safety T.J. Ward was fined $15,000 for his hit on Bengals wide receiver Jordan Shipley, resulting in a concussion. On Sunday, Steelers linebacker James Harrison added to a multitude of vicious hits around the league by taking out both Josh Cribbs and Mohamed Massaquoi.
To take a player out of the game is not necessarily frowned on, especially when it is completely unintentional, but it’s another thing when these hits are blows to the head that come without any remorse. The way Harrison was talking about it after the game, one would think he doesn’t seem to mind hunting for a head or two if it means taking a player out of the game.
The worst part about this is that neither play drew a flag from the officials. You can forgive the referees for missing the first hit, but a second helmet-to-helmet hit in the same game by the same player didn’t draw a flag? That is precisely the biggest issue with this violent play – there is no consistency. Every helmet-to-helmet hit needs to, at the very least, be a substantial penalty. The additional fear of a suspension also needs to loom in the minds of every player looking to take a guy out of the game.
You can try and make the excuse that football is by nature a violent game. That’s not something I’m disputing. The problem is that textbook tackling has been replaced by the big play, jarring hits that aim to either knock the ball loose or the opposing player out of the game.
Harrison certainly deserves a hefty fine, despite the fact that he thinks it would be a “travesty.” The travesty is that it’s taken the league this long to consider doling out suspensions for these types of hits.