The National Football League decided to get tough on what it calls "dangerous and flagrant hits on the field." The first players to get fined included Altanta Falcons cornerback, Dunta Robinson ($50,000), Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker James Harrison ($75,000) and New England Patriots safety Brandi Meriweather ($50,000).
"We can't and won't tolerate what we saw on Sunday. We've got to get the message to players that these devastating hits and head shots will be met with a very necessary higher standard of accountability. We have to dispel the notion that you get one free pass in these egregious or flagrant shots. What we saw Sunday was disturbing. We're talking about avoiding life-altering impacts." NFL Executive VP of Football Operations, Ray Anderson
However, Harrison says NFL's new ruling may impact his time in the league, saying "I'm going to sit down and have a serious conversation with my coach tomorrow and see if I can actually play by NFL rules and still be effective."
In a statement, Robinson said, "I am disappointed by the NFL's ruling. I recognize the goal is to protect all players from the Pee Wee level on up. However, this was a bang-bang hit situation where I did not lead with my helmet, and therefore I will appeal. Although it was a violent hit, my hit did not violate the NFL's rules, and I was playing the game the way I always have. I am not a dirty player and have never been characterized as one."
Several players have also come forward with concerns about how they will have to alter the way they play mid-season to comply with the new NFL ruling.
While NFL executives want to take a stance on flagrant hits and many support the decision to make the game as safe as possible for the players, these fines all come after the league made changes to its policies. Therefore, the question remains, did the NFL have the right to fine players retrospectively following the league's decision to change the way it disciplines players involved in helmet-to-helmet hits? Others say the rise in injuries leading to concussions gives enough reason for the NFL to hit its players hard with fines, while considering tagging on suspensions as well moving forward.
In the first six weeks of the season, 35 plays have been listed as head or concussion injuries. This is 14 more injuries that occured in the first six weeks last season.