Now that the replacement referees are firmly set on the back burner after a few controversial calls, it’s time to look into something that has been plaguing some of the Dallas Cowboy fans for a while now. In last Sunday’s win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Dallas quarterback Tony Romo was hit on a helmet to helmet hit by Bucs defensive tackle Gerald McCoy. The penalty was not called and the NFL has decided not to fine McCoy for his hit.
The NFL has made a bold statement over the last year or so and have began cracking down on these types of hits. Player safety, especially concussions, have become an urgency to protect players from suffering the same fate as some of their predecessors. By the league definition a helmet to helmet hit is:
when a player uses his helmet to strike an opposing player in the helmet. Due to the severe nature of the injuries that can occur as a result of this type of hit, helmet to helmet hits are penalties in the NFL, whether incidental or deliberate. Defensively, helmet to helmet penalties are usually flagged during the process of making a tackle. However, the penalty can also be enforced on an offensive player making a block or a defensive player making a block after a turnover.
Notice the rule itself says “whether incidental or deliberate“. So the question becomes, even though the replacement refs missed the penalty, why hasn’t the league issued a fine to McCoy?
Reading the Tampa Bay Times blurb on the incident, they quoted Romo as saying “There was some other stuff. You probably could have got some helmet-to-helmet on me, I’m sure, on one of those hits,” he said. “I’d be pretty shocked if it felt like that and it wasn’t something there.” At least Romo doesn’t come out and blame anyone in particular and like the warrior quarterback he is, brushed it off as “part of football”.
So what makes Romo different from someone like Texans quarterback Matt Schaub? The defensive player who hit Schaub is suspended for one game. Other quarterbacks get those fines if they aren’t caught in the games? Understandably Schaub lost part of his ear to the hit and his helmet did come off but still, the NFL inconsistency on their own rule is a bit disturbing. So what does it take for the NFL to call those penalties consistently? In a matter of opinion, it would seem that it takes either being carted off the field or losing part of a body part for the NFL to take notice and issue fines.
Maybe now that the replacement refs are gone and the regular refs are back things will change, but the way things go in Dallas, don’t expect the rules to be quite the same for Tony Romo as they are for a lot of other teams.