ED REED SUSPENSION LIFTED BUT AT WHAT COST TO LEAGUE AND PLAYERS
According to the Baltimore Ravens, safety Ed Reed, who was suspended for one game for his hit on Steelers WR Emmanuel Sanders on Sunday night, will not be suspended following his appeal hearing this morning. Instead, Reed will pay a $50,000 fine and get to play vs. the San Diego Chargers this Sunday.
The fact that Reed's suspension was overturned was a surprise. But so was the fact that Reed was suspended in the first place. Reed appealed the ruling during a phone session Tuesday morning with NFL hearing officer Ted Cottrell. The NFL Players Association represented Reed, who also participated.
Surprising many, early this afternoon Cottrell reduced the penalty.
In a letter to Reed, Cottrell wrote: “I have determined that your actions were egregious and warrant significant discipline. However, I do not believe that your actions were so egregious as to subject you to a one-game suspension without pay. Player safety is the league’s primary concern in the formation of playing rules and all players are expected to adhere to those rules or face disciplinary action. I hope in the future you will focus on ensuring that your play conforms to the rules.”
Blah-Blah-Blah-Blah, does anyone think that Cottrell's voice or words resemble Charlie Browns teacher.
The suspension became a hot topic on all sports talk shows locally and across the nation. The hit created a stirring debate between Mike Golic of Mike & Mike in the morning on ESPN Radio and NFL EVP of Football Operations Ray Anderson.
Players and coaches alike came out in support of Reed and against the leagues decision. Even one from the opposing team. Steelers’ safety Ryan Clark, a player on the same team as Sanders, and a frequent member of the illegal hit club did not agree with the suspension because he didn't think Reed was intentionally trying to hurt Sanders.
Former Ravens defensive coordinator and Jets head Coach Rex Ryan, said there was no way Reed would purposely try to hurt another player. The hash tag #FreeEdReed was trending locally on Twitter.
Mike Golic was very outspoken about the leagues decision, prompting Anderson to aggressively defend the NFL’s decision. Golic stopped short of calling the NFL hypocrites but I will not.
The league and their hypocrisy are starting to get out of hand. I have not been one of Reed’s biggest fans because of his selfish behavior in the past but that opinion is starting to change. Watching Reed play week in and week out with an injury that could end his career quicker than most, is painful from the couch. The nerve impingement that Reed plays with every Sunday is not only painful for the future Hall of Fame safety but it alters the way Reed can tackle.
Reed was a textbook hitter and tackler for the first eight years of his career. Now, Reed is unable to wrap up players as the NFL wants and since spending the first six games of the 2010 season on the physically unable to perform list, is lucky to be playing at 75 percent health.
Every hit Reed makes and even attempting to tackle an opposing player appears to be painful. Reed is the perfect case scenario of a player that is likely to suffer long-term complications from having given his all to a league that even Reed suggests, and in spite of recent efforts, does not care about its player’s health.
Taking Reed off the field for one game for hitting a certain way because he plays with injury is as hypocritical as it gets when it comes to the league office. I’d bet the league would have still cashed the checks from Nike on the Ed Reed jerseys it sells despite Reed almost losing a game check of $423,529.
The Ravens believe in Reed and even if his shoulder and at times his psyche appear to be fragile, the Ravens did the right thing in backing their all world safety. The Ravens felt so strongly against the suspension that they released a statement as soon as the one-game ban was lifted. “I think John [Harbaugh] and his coaches do an excellent job of teaching the right, safe and legal way to play football," general manager Ozzie Newsome said, "and we believe Ed clearly tries to play within the rules on every down.”
When the NFL announced Reed's suspension Monday, the league cited two other instances when Reed was fined for hits to the head. Ravens head Coach John Harbaugh countered with, “None of those [previous hits] were with intent to injure or to harm in any way. When you look at the hits, that’s pretty obvious. We all know Ed. Ed respects the game. He respects his fellow players."
Ed Reed is a warrior and the NFL would be better served to support their warriors instead of trying to sit them down. I am not saying what James Harrison did to Colt McCoy last year or a man named Suh in Detroit are great examples, but their play is different from Reeds warrior mentality.
Harrison and Suh are dirty, Reeds not. Personally, I could care less if the NFL goes back to the day where we see close-line tackles. Players make choices and in the old days, the ones that chose to play dirty were dealt with by their peers on the field. The term "battle in the trenches" in the NFL wasn't born in 1985.
The NFL can continue to put forth this dog and pony show, sometimes getting it right, as they did in Reed's appeal. I wonder how concerned the NFL would be if there were not over 2,000 former players suing them in Federal court for liability from injuries they sustained when they played the game.
Chances are without those 2,000 lawsuits, which are now one unified suit, we would probably see Sean Peyton on the sideline in New Orleans and Greg Williams coaching the Rams defense in St. Louis. The NFL is doing what it has to in order to appear it is on top of the situation. Reed's suspension is the perfect case.
This is not all the NFL’s fault. Players make choices and Reed’s case brings it all full circle. A current player adjusting the way he plays because of a permanent injury sustained playing the game he loves, is then suspended by a league that built its reputation on the violent hits he throws because the adjustments he makes cause his hits to appear to be illegal.
If you could not or did not follow that just know that what happened today was the right decision to let Reed play, but ultimately and when Reed's career is over, is it the right decision to allow Reed to continue to play? With Reed's case, it appears that neither the players or the league is actually learning from their mistakes. Nope, they are just trying to figure out the best way to pay for them, now--- and finally for the players sake, into the future.