SportsProf

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Monday, November 08, 2010

NFL: No Fine for the Hit on Austin Collie

Wow.

So, the back judge threw a flag without having a good look at exactly what happened, which is what Eagles' fans saw and which is why Eagles' coach Andy Reid got so hot (even though he was a teammate of Austin Collie's father at BYU and, needless to say, concerned about the health of his opponent's wide receiver). The bottom line: there is no fine on Eagles' DB Kurt Coleman because the helmet-to-helmet hit on Collie resulted from safety Quintin Mikell's legal hit on Collie that drove Collie into the helmet of Coleman.

The explanation for the 15-yard penalty against the Birds for unnecessary roughness: officials are instructed to err on the side of calling the penalty. Which is precisely what happened.

They erred.

And, in the fourth quarter, they erred even worse when DE Trent Cole touched Peyton Manning's helmet on a Fourth and The Length of Broad Street (by the way, it's the country's straightest street; translated, Fourth and 18) and was flagged for unnecessary roughness. That call led to a Colts' first down that led to a touchdown that led to, well, almost a last-second Colts' comeback. What should have happened: no flag and a turnover on downs, and then the Eagles would have been en route to an easier victory (and I might have gotten home on time to watch Boardwalk Empire).

At any rate, neither defensive players nor officials know what to do, and, right now, NFL stands for Not for Lucidity (which, for those who didn't take Latin, don't have a thesaurus, aren't studying for the SAT's or just do not care, means clarity).

All Eagles' fans wish Austin Collie the best, and no one wished him to get hurt. But the NFL has to figure out a way to balance a fine line between the hitting that it embraces and that sells tickets and protecting players from serious injury, all without making the game so rules-based and nuanced that the game will make little sense as currently played.

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