The National Football League is starting to get a little out of control. On Sunday against the Broncos, Eagles safety Macho Harris was flagged for a “late hit” on Denver’s tight end Tony Scheffler. The hit came directly after cornerback Asante Samuel intercepted a pass on the ten yard line, which led to a personal foul and the beginning of a lull in performance for the Eagles in the second half. Today, Harris was fined $7,500 for the hit that the NFL thought was aimed too high at the head.
Here is a clip of the interception by Samuel. You can see the hit in the background.
I understand the NFL trying to take precautions toward player’s safety, but this specific incident is ridiculous. At some point you have to step back and realize that this is football. It is a contact sport and players are going to be hit. I am not advocating that hitting players is always the right way to handle situations, but in this particular instance with Harris, this penalty and fine is way out of line.
The most common reason to fine a player for a late hit is when they commit a helmet to helmet hit. If you take a look at the video clip of the hit, Harris made a legal tackle. He did not go for Scheffler’s head, but rather laid down a great tackle to the tight end’s chest. The NFL noted that he was intending to cause injury by lowering his shoulder into the tight end’s chest, but isn’t that still considered a legal hit? If you can’t use your shoulder to tackle players, then cornerback Asante Samuel has some problems coming his way.
If you look into this incident, you have to eliminate Asante Samuel from the play. Harris was running across the field to make a play on the tight end. There is no way that he could have stopped his momentum in the time that Samuel caught the pass and when he was trying to make a play. My main argument is this: if the ball were to go through Samuel’s hands or if he was taken out of the play completely, Harris would have timed the tackle perfectly and made a good play on the ball.
In my opinion, he was defending the over the top ball and was simply trying to prevent Scheffler from catching the pass. The argument against mine is that Scheffler was left defenseless, but Harris can’t necessarily rely on Samuel to make that play and he has to assume that the tight end is going to make a play there. You can see in the video that Harris is watching Scheffler’s eyes, which were looking up at the pass. Therefore, Harris was focused on preventing him from catching the ball, not trying to block him or cause injury.
Aside from the fact that Harris had his roughest game of his career, I don’t think that a fine from the league was appropriate. I am all for Commissioner Roger Goodell trying to prevent injury, but this particular instance is crossing the line. Players are getting stronger and faster and big hits are going to happen. Don’t penalize players for trying to make plays.