Saturday, December 1, 2012
On Friday as fine day
By Paul Kuharsky
Sometimes we learn about fines from players, who share the news they get from the league via FedEx.
But the bulk of what we find out about fines comes on Fridays. And the league uses an interesting system for divulging news: It’s by request.
If a reporter sees something that could produce league discipline and asks about it, the league will share fine information on that specific hit, penalty or violation.
Players and agents, of course, can share what they want -- to vent or complain or try to sway public opinion or give volume to their appeal.
From the league side, we can’t call and say, “I’d like to know all the fines levied against Michael Griffin this season” or “Please give me a list of all the fines that came out of plays involving Matt Schaub.”
Some of the plays in question are obvious. But there are plenty that are not. Don’t ask, and they don’t tell. So the picture we get is undoubtedly incomplete.
The league generally answers fine questions from last week’s games on Friday afternoons in an attempt to minimize the story. Teams have generally finished practice and their open locker room time for the media is over. Reporters can't easily get to the guy for a reaction, and the story is typically smaller than it would be with his voice in there.
Is that the right way to handle things?
The NFL news landscape is cluttered with news of fines on Fridays, player reaction included or not.
I’d vote for full disclosure. (I’m pretty consistent on that). Put out a weekly list of all the fines.
I understand why they don’t and likely won’t. ESPN Stats and Info would compile a database and give us a sortable spreadsheet that would let us compile standings and do all kinds of breakdowns.
It would be interesting stuff, but it would take us further and further away from actual games. Understandably, it's not something the league would want to see.
I don’t envision any sort of change to the way info comes out, and there is no real demand for it.
We’ll find out what we find out. Attentive reporters will ask the right questions about the games they watch, and we’ll learn how the league’s disciplinarians viewed things. We’ll measure this violation and the resulting fine against that one, write blog entries comparing and contrasting violations and penalties, and spend time and space second-guessing decisions. (See: Jay Cutler’s head vs. Brian Cushing’s knee.)
We’ll assess how a fine against J.J. Watt on a play that didn’t produce a penalty tells us of a missed call, and contemplate how that missed call might have changed the game.
Friday fine news is a fact of life, as are such reconsiderations that come with them.
I’m a big fan of the end of the week. I’m not as big a fan of the news and storylines that dominates the end of the NFL week.