The NFL's new habit of announcing player fines for in-game violations does not include the rest of the story.
Specifically, the league isn't announcing whether player appeals of fines imposed by the league were successful.
In a new column from NFL Players Association president JC Tretter attacking the fine system generally (despite the fact that the union agreed to the procedure), Tretter makes a significant disclosure about a massive fine imposed earlier this season. Tretter doesn't specifically disclose the player, but it's clear that he’s referring to Falcons fullback Keith Smith.
"For example," Tretter writes, "just this season, a player was fined more than $87,000 for an illegal use of helmet. The player’s coach had previously reached out to the league for guidance on how to properly execute the technique his player had been previously fined for, but he received no answer. After receiving this fine, which is more than his entire weekly paycheck, the player appealed to the neutral hearing officer, who rescinded the entire amount and deemed there was no actual violation of the rules. "
Again, that's the procedure to which the union agreed. The NFL imposes the fine, and the player appeals to the hearing officers jointly hired and paid by the league and the union.
Still, if the NFL is going to disclose these fines, the league should also announce the fines that were wiped out or reduced.
Also, if the league is going to expect players to adhere to the rules, the league should respond when coaches have questions about the proper procedure or doing so.
Tretter's column explains that, in 2022, the league issued roughly 460 fines. Approximately 100 were wiped out entirely on appeal, and another 150 or so were reduced on appeal.
That's 210 fines upheld as imposed, but 250 (more than half) that were not.
Yes, the system was agreed to by management and labor. But it's misleading for the league to announce the fines without disclosing the outcome of the appeals. If the league isn't going to do that, the union should.