There’s been plenty of fretting over the hit Mason Foster delivered to Patriots receiver Chad Ochocinco Thursday night in the Bucs second pre-season game. During the first quarter Tom Brady threw a pass over the deep middle of the field intended for Ochocinco where Foster seemingly launched himself at a defenseless receiver and was flagged for Unnecessary Roughness. While it did not look like Foster led with his helmet, but rather his shoulder because Ochocinco was in the air and had not made a football move he was considered defenseless.
Based on Rule 12, Section 2, Article 8 (Unnecessary roughness) in the NFL rulebook there’s no debating that there was a foul committed by Foster.
(3) “Launching” (springing forward and upward) into a defenseless player, or otherwise striking him in a way that causes the defensive player’s helmet or facemask to forcibly strike the defenseless player’s head, neck, or face—even if the initial contact of the defender’s helmet or facemask is lower than the defenseless player’s neck. (Examples: a defender buries his facemask into a defenseless player’s high chest area, but the defender’s trajectory as he leaps into the defenseless player causes the defender’s helmet to strike the defenseless player violently in the head or face; or a defender, using a face-on posture or with his head slightly lowered, hits a defenseless player in an area below the defenseless player’s neck, then the defender’s head moves upward, resulting in strong contact by the defender’s mask or helmet with the defenseless player’s head, neck, or face [an example is the so-called “dip and rip” technique]).
(g) if the initial force of the contact by a defender’s helmet (including facemask), forearm, or shoulder is to the head or neck area of a defenseless player.
(h) If a receiver has completed a catch and has not had time to protect himself, a defensive player is prohibited from launching (springing forward and upward) into him in a way that causes the defensive player’s helmet, facemask, shoulder, or forearm to forcibly strike the receiver’s head or neck area—even if the initial contact of the defender’s helmet, facemask, shoulder, or forearm is lower than the receiver’s neck.
The intrigue comes in when there’s a collision of that nature where a player was flagged for Unnecessary Roughness that’s sure to drawl the wrath of NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, especially with player safety being of paramount importance to the league. With a fine forthcoming in a message on Twitter directed to Foster, Ochocinco wrote, “great hit last night, if u’re fined I’ll reimburse u boss. That’s the way the game should b played.”
Well it appears even though Ochocinco feels strongly enough that it wasn’t a finable offence and was nothing more then a clean football hit, NFL spokesman Greg Aiello told ProFootballtalk.com that it is not permitted for a player to pay another player’s fine. Anyone who’s fined by the NFL has to pay the fine himself, and no kind of reimbursement, by anyone, is allowed.
Sure we get player safety, but when you begin to take the violence out of the game, it begins to water down the product. The reason football has become America’s new Past Time, is simple. The speed, collisions, brute force, intricacy of 11 players playing in unison is like no other sport in the world. If it wasn’t bad enough fans had to deal with a lockout that involved millionaires fighting with billionaires over percentage points the league continues to treat a brutal game that’s predicated on violence as if it were something resembling a little girl’s tea party.