This season has been a disaster for the NFL. Sure, there are tons of good games, but there are also lots of scandals. They’ve been accused of ignoring claims of domestic violence, unfairly punishing players, and that isn’t even the worst of it. Over the weekend the NFL got into more trouble because of a time honored tradition, the touchdown celebration.
Husain Abdullah was penalized for this touchdown celebration, in which he bows down and prays, a common practice for his Muslim faith. Abdullah is a devout Muslim and even skipped the last NFL season so he could make the Islamic trip to Mecca. This is what the NFL penalizes.
I guess you have to draw the line somewhere, but this line seems a little…off. Apparently, this line was drawn when you aren’t doing a dance from a rap song or intentionally disrespecting your opponent.
The Los Angeles Times reports St. Louis Rams owner Stan Kroenke has bought enough space in Los Angeles to house a new NFL stadium and parking. According to the Times, the proposed stadium would hold 80,000 fans.
The NFL will not allow any team to relocate in the next season, but the league has made it clear they intend to have a team in Los Angeles in the near future. The Oakland Raiders have also been rumored to be looking to move to Los Angeles. Both the Rams and the Raiders played in Los Angeles previously. To gain approval of the move, 24 of 32 team owners would have to be in support.
According to the report, the stadium would not be publicly funded, and will have to be approved by voters.
Though this initiative by Kroenke is a major step toward Los Angeles once again becoming home to an NFL team, owners have frequently used the threat of relocation to L.A. to gain leverage with their current host cities.
The Rams have played at Edward Jones Dome in St. Louis since 1995. Fan attendance ranked second to last in the NFL this season.
Developer Anschutz Entertainment Group didn’t return a request for comment.
Sure, games played in the snow are entertaining, but wouldn’t using artificial snow be cheating? Not to Michael Moore, who’s sold on the idea of a field of the white stuff for every game — for safety’s sake.
Marshawn Lynch again is being fined for grabbing his crotch after scoring a monster touchdown during the NFC Championship game and will be fined once again for refusing to speak to the media after a game. This time, he’ll pay $20,000 for the “obscene gesture” and the NFL is threatening to fine him “significantly more” than the $50,000 Lynch has already paid twice for ignoring media obligations.
His teammate, Chris Matthews, was fined $11,050 for what the league says was an “obscene gesture” that mimicked Lynch’s signature crotch grab. However, Lynch and Williams say the latter was fined only for shaking Lynch’s hand after a touchdown. Lynch then tweeted that he “feels embarrassed to work for a particular organization that fined a teammate of mine for shaking my hand after a touchdown.”
The NFL has spent much of the 2014 season scrambling to update policies after they’ve been revealed as weak and inconsistent, and the revised policies will benefit the players, teams, and leagues. But as the 2015 Super Bowl comes to conclude the NFL’s craziest season, the NFL’s predilection for highly subjective discipline at the hands of its commissioner remains evident in non-football fines.
Marshawn Lynch’s $100,000 fine for two combined incidents in which he refused to speak to the media stands as the highest fine during the 2014 season for a player who was not also suspended. Put simply, only players who used performance-enhancing drugs (PEDs) or assaulted their loves ones and subsequently lost weeks of their salary paid the league more than Lynch.
Is a player’s refusal to speak to reporters really worthy of a higher fine than a blindside block ($22,050) or a horse collar tackle ($16,537)?
At the beginning of the season, the NFL releases its list of standard fines for on-field football violations. The amounts hover around three increments: $8,268, $16,537, and $22,050. How the NFL decided on those is unclear. Reflecting on the league’s wonky personal conduct policy and PED/illegal substance policy, it seems the on-field football fines were once the NFL’s strongest showing of consistent punishment.
When Ray Rice was initially disciplined for his domestic assault incident last February, he was handed a two-game suspension and a $58,000 fine. Shortly after, when TMZ released a full surveillance video from the elevator, Rice was suspended from the league indefinitely and Commissioner Roger Goodell admitted that they had gotten Rice’s suspension wrong. As a result, the personal conduct policy under which Rice was punished has been highly revised, and players are now sent to the paid-leave purgatory known as the Commissioner’s Exempt List. The new policy was pushed through without approval by the Player’s Association, who have now filed a grievance with the league.
Other notable fines this season include Wes Welker’s $50,000 fine for taking ecstasy, and Josh Gordon’s $81,746 fine for testing positive for trace amounts of marijuana for the second time in his career. These fines, and the subsequent suspensions, prompted the league to finally make a distinction between recreational drugs and PEDs.
Though uniform violations are standardized at the beginning of the season, they represent another realm in which the NFL regulates the non-essential parts of their players’ jobs. The uniform requirements serve a fine purpose: A mismatched team sort of ruins the illusion of one impenetrable unit. But earlier this season they fined Colin Kaepernick $10,000 for wearing Beats By Dre headphones before and after the game. The NFL is sponsored by Bose, but Kaepernick (along with a few other players) are sponsored by Beats.
Prior to last week’s NFC Championship game, it was reported that the league had threatened to restrict Marshawn Lynch from playing in the game if he wore a pair of all-gold cleats. Cleat substitutions are permitted if the player clears it with the league ahead of time, which Lynch presumably knew, but to eject or possibly suspend Lynch for wearing gold cleats would be a power play by the NFL that would have major ramifications on the outcome of the game and the quality of the entertainment they facilitate.
In repeating the same behaviors that he’s been punished for already, Marshawn Lynch knows what he’s doing, and he knows what to expect. His job requires him to speak with the media and act in a way that the league arbitrarily determines as positively representing their sport. The media availability requirement may be a silly job requirement, but it’s a pre-established expectation nonetheless. Is it a requirement that should be reconsidered? It might be, but it’s not the primary point of consideration when discussing how the NFL is choosing to punish Lynch.
The league won’t back down. Lynch can keep crotch-grabbing and giving pointless statements — when he gives them at all — and the league will just increase their fines and punishment in corresponding increments.
Kurt Warner was the miracle man in 1999 and the NFL MVP in 1999 and 2001. He is ranked number 3 of all time in career passing rating in the entire NFL. So it is really no surprise to see him back at the top despite the inability of management to recognize the timeless talent in this champion.
Warner was a mere backup quarterback for the Rams in 1998, having entered the NFL from the Canadian Football League, but came on to lead his team in the 1999 season, when an injury of the starting quarterback put him in the driver’s seat. According to Wikipedia, he shocked the NFL. “Warner completed one of the top seasons by a quarterback in NFL history by throwing for 4,353 yards with 41 touchdown passes and a completion rate of 65.1%”.
He led a basically unknown team to a stellar season and a superbowl title, making the Rams a Cinderella team in only their fourth year in Saint Louis. The Saint Louis Rams defeated Tennessee to take the Superbowl and prove they were indeed the best team in the NFL.
Kurt had a problem. How do you repeat? It isn’t easy, and the Rams were not made up of the same committed talent of the dynasty teams of the Steelers and Patriots. The defense failed them in future years, and their management did not have the commitment to win. After two years of being in the hunt but not winning, the Rams blundered away their talent and eventually became the pathetic Saint Louis Team we see today.
Was Warner at fault? In 2002, Warner appeared to lose heart. The Rams went 0-3 and Kurt looked to have lost his spark. Warner broke a finger and was forced to sit out much of that season giving way to the youthful and promising Marc Bulger. Marc was indeed a great talent, but he proved that it was not Kurt that was at fault for the Rams’ failures. Despite great play, Marc has yet to lead the Rams anywhere but to mediocity and more recently, total embarrassment. Marc has proven that talent alone is not what leads a team.
Warner, in 2003 ended up with the Giants, and he started off winning five of seven games, but the Giants that year were rather pathetic overall. Despite switching quarterbacks to Eli Manning in place of Warner, the team played out the rest of the season losing 6 out of 7 games. A change in quarterbacks was not the answer for this team, and great coaching and team building is what brought the Giants to the Superbowl. Eli played well, but could Warner have once again led a superbowl team had they fixed their problems before discarding him? We will never know.
Kurt was flipped once again, but stuck in there, signing with one of the most hopeless teams in the NFL, the Arizona Cardinals. This was not where a great player goes to recover his greatness, this is a team a player goes to die quietly in obscurity.
And so it seemed. Warner did not rise immediately to greatness. Injuries and questionable choices by coaches in Arizona kept Warner out of the hunt until 2007. Then, a miracle. According to Wikipedia, “In the third game of the 2007 season against the Baltimore Ravens, Warner came off the bench to relieve an ineffective Matt Leinart during the 2nd and 4th quarters (the Ravens were leading 23-6 at the beginning of the 4th quarter). He led a furious comeback as he completed 15 passes out of 20 attempted for 258 yds and 2 TDs. This brought them to a tie game (23–23), but after a Ravens last second field goal, Arizona lost the game 26–23.” A heartbreaker for Warner, but a sign that great things were to come for this champion.
Still, no one showed true faith in Kurt. Everyone wrote him off. No way this old man (age ) could win for the Cardinals, the Cardinals don’t win on their own, how could they win with a has been? Seattle would win the west and Arizona would make a brave, but hapless, showing.
Under Kurt’s leadership and with incredibly talented players such as Larry Fitzgerald and Anquan Kenmile Boldin on offense and a defense that rose to the occasion many times during the season and shut down great teams in the playoffs when it had to be done, the Cardinals won the West with a 9-7 record and have won three straight in the playoffs against the best the NFC could muster. They beat Atlanta and then destroyed Carolina on Carolina’s home turf, 33-13. But the Championship would certainly be a different story, right?
In the first half, Kurt and the Cardinals picked apart the Eagles. The Eagles showed championship heart in the second half, but still fell to a Cardinal drive near the end of the fourth quarter. After his team’s victory, Kurt said “We don’t care if others believed in us… what mattered was that we believed in ourselves!” Kurt can still lead a winning team, and it was a huge error in Saint Louis to discard him due to management’s continuous flubs. Bulger cannot lead that team, and even in his prime best years, could not muster playoff quality. In all due respect, Kurt has grit and you can’t find that easily. He reminds us of Ken Stabler, another great player into his later years.
First Championship in Cardinal History
Now, the master is in the Superbowl again, and ironically, it is with the Arizona Cardinals. The Cardinals abandoned Saint Louis for Arizona right as the Rams stepped in. Saint Louis felt vindicated, but their owners had no clue how to maintain a strong NFL team and traded youth for experience and courage. Now, the team that was Saint Louis’ heritage, a team with a mascot that could not even survive in Arizona, wins the NFL Championship!! The Cardinals are no longer from Saint Louis, and Saint Louis once again has one of the worst teams in the NFL.
This is the first Championship for the Cardinals in their history. The very first time they are stepping into the Superbowl despite being the oldest franchise in the NFL. It is also the very first time they may just win it all. But it isn’t without the experience of a leader that has been there before. A man with courage and commitment that knows how to win and how to lead. A man Saint Louis, 5 years ago, was much too anxious to replace.
We have heard many cliches about sports over the years, but this one plays with us to the end. Defense does not win championships. Offense does not win championships. Heart wins championships. The Cardinals have heart, and it is our hope that it leads them to Superbowl history.