Posted Wed Aug 24th by Monty
One wonders if Steve Atwater could have functioned in today’s NFL at all.
Denver Broncos safety Rahim Moore has been fined $20,000 for his hit on Buffalo Bills WR Donald Jones Saturday, 9 News Denver reports. Moore, the Broncos’ second round draft choice, didn’t launch himself at the receiver, and he led with his shoulder as taught. But the collision was powerful, Jones was defenseless, and was shaken up on the play. Moore was flagged with a personal foul and penalized 15 yards for the tackle.
The issue here isn’t whether the NFL is getting soft, or whether we agree or disagree with the recent rule changes protecting players. Moore laid Jones out, but what about the tackle was inherently illegal? If Jones gets up without incident, is Moore still fined? Let’s go to the rulebook.
This is obviously a hot topic in NFL circles right now, so care must be taken to make sure we have all of the facts. There is no one single resource with this information we could find (even the Rulebook on NFL.com is merely a “Digest” and didn’t offer much). But based on numerous articles we’ve found explaining these violations (here, here, here…), there are three main issues in play:
- Whether Moore launched himself with both feet at a defenseless receiver.
- Whether Moore led with his helmet or even lowered his head.
- Whether initial contact was made with the receiver’s helmet/neck area.
Clearly Moore did not launch himself at Jones. And clearly Moore did not lead with his helmet. He even turned his body away from Jones during the hit. So was Jones’ head the first area hit?
We’ve looked at the video a dozen times, and we say no. We’ve even fast-tracked it to the best replay angles we can find for you to see if you agree. It’s clear to us Moore strikes Jones in the chest and shoulder pads, which causes Jones’ head to jolt and then make contact with Moore’s helmet and shoulder. Granted, this all happens in the span of less than a tenth of a second (it was a violent hit), but it was a clean hit nonetheless.
“I didn’t even know I was flagged until I ran to the sideline,” Moore said. “If it was the wrong thing to do, I apologize, but at the end of the day, I mean no harm to nobody.”
“I don’t think it was helmet to helmet, I’ll have to go back and view it,” head coach John Fox said following the game, “but either way, they viewed it as a penalty.”
Again, the NFL needs to clarify what is and isn’t an illegal hit. Players’ helmets are constantly making contact with other players after a tackle has begun — that’s why they wear helmets at all, isn’t it? Penalizing a big hit simply for the fact that it was a big hit is the exact direction football fans have been fearing the NFL has been heading: a soft one.
Again, we’re not debating whether the NFL is getting too soft. We’re debating whether Moore broke the rules as they are written now.
Our take: Moore hit Jones right in the numbers. Our take: if Jones gets right up, we doubt a flag is thrown or a fine levied. Our take: Moore should appeal this fine. Do you agree?