December 01, 2010
"The league doesn't care about us anyway. [...] They don't care about the safety of the game. If the league was so concerned about the safety, why are you adding two more games on? You talk about you don't want players to drink ... and all you see is beer commercials. You don't want us to gamble, but then there are [NFL-endorsed lottery scratch-off games...]
"[The illegal-hit penalties are] going to change the outcome; somebody's going to lose a game because of it. [...] It's going to be a huge play in a playoff game, somebody's going to hit a quarterback or do something and the referee is going to be too scared to call it. So he's going to call it anyway so he can save his tail. He [the player] may not even get fined or not, but it will come down to the outcome of a ballgame."
I'm glad someone in the league finally called out the NFL for this, it's just too bad it came from a member of the Steelers. Because of all the heat the team has taken of late for James Harrison's fines, this diatribe could be considered sour grapes.
The motive shouldn't detract from the message, though. Ward is right when he calls out the NFL for its convenient morality on drinking and self-righteous stance on player safety. But calling out the NFL (or any major sports league) for being hypocritical is like calling Washington, D.C. corrupt. For better or worse, that's the way it is.
What'll be most interesting is to see whether Ward's inevitable fine for this outburst will be bigger than the $25,000 fine imposed on Andre Johnson(notes) and Cortland Finnegan(notes) for their Sunday brawl. If it is, you can expect to hear about that from Hines Ward too.
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