The biggest upset thus far of the NFL season happened Friday, when it was announced that James Harrison wasn't the first Pittsburgh Steelers player to be fined for an illegal tackle this season. That honor belongs to All-Pro safety Troy Polamalu, who earned a $15,000 fine for his horse-collar tackle on Ricky Williams last Sunday.
The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review first reported the fine.
"It definitely wasn't on purpose," Polamalu told the newspaper. "I've never intentionally tried to horse collar anybody."
Polamalu's fine was the minimum required by the league for a horse collar. Not that he was complaining.
"I'm not a big fan of people being really vocal about the fines," he said, not adding a chastising "JAMES!"
Changing gears a little, it looks like we're stuck calling these types of plays "horse-collar tackles." Like baseball and the term "walk-off," this term entered the vernacular quickly* and has become commonly accepted. I don't like it.
* The first reference to a "horse-collar tackle" I could find in a major publication was in a 2003 Palm Beach Sun-Sentinel story about a Florida high school playoff game. (Apropos of nothing, that game included the younger brother of Anquan Boldin and current Lions cornerback Alphonso Smith.) It wasn't until Cowboys safety Roy Williams went on a tri-state horse-collaring spree that the term was first used in articles about the NFL. For the first few months, writers referred to it as "the so-called horse-collar tackle." Though it surely had been used in football settings beforehand, the mainstream use of the term is barely 5 years old.
Couldn't we have done better than "horse collar?" Why not just "collar tackle." Or "neck tackle." Or we could have said, "he got Roy'd." And how has PETA not sent out an attention-whoring email blast about how this term is offensive to animals? Y'all are slipping!