The Denver Post's Mike Klis makes an interesting point: when it comes to the NFL Gestapo meting out punishments, players who receive bad publicity for their actions receive stiffer penalties than those who don't, no matter how egregious the offense. I have no idea if the data support Klis's claim, but anecdotally, it certainly seems plausible.
"When he gets beaten on a play and then retaliates with a cheap shot, it's uncalled for," [center Casey] Wiegmann said. "But a lot of guys on their defense are doing that type of stuff. If you go back and watch the play-by-play, stuff happens late all the time."
"The play right before Rodney Harrison got hurt?" Wiegmann said of the season-ending knee injury the Pats' safety suffered later in the game. "He cheap-shotted me right around the pile after the play. Stuff like that, they get away with."
Vince Wilfork's forearm shiver to Jay Cutler's noggin on Monday Night Football earned a trip to New York to visit with Commissioner Robert Goodell. Wilfork was fined for the incident, but does his "dirty play" even reach the same level as others on this list?
Tom Hauck, Getty Images
Spurs forward Robert Horry's hip-check sent Suns guard Steve Nash flying out of bounds during Game 4 of their NBA series in 2007. Horry was suspended for the next two games; Amare Stoudamire and Boris Diaw of the Suns were banned from Game 5 for leaving the bench area during the incident. The Spurs eliminated the Suns and went on to win the NFA title.
Chris Birck, NBAE / Getty Images
Ohio State's legendary coach Woody Hayes got caught up in the emotion in 1978 and punched Clemson's Charlie Bauman after his interception ended the Buckeyes' potential game-winning drive during the Gator Bowl. Hayes was fired the next day and never coached again.
NFL linebacker Bill Romanowski made series of rule-breaking decisions during his career. Among them: he ended a teammate's career by punching him and breaking his eye socket (Marcus Williams), spat on an opponent (J.J. Stokes) and kicked an opponent in the head (Larry Centers).
Andy Lyons, Getty Images
Mike Tyson shocked the world when he bit Evander Holyfield twice -- once on each ear -- during their title fight in 1997. Tyson, who said that he was retaliating because Holyfield had been allowed to get away with headbutting him, was disqualified and suspended.
Jeff Haynes, AFP / Getty Images
In an incident the Titans' Albert Haynesworth would later describe as "disgusting," he stomped on the helmet-less head of Cowboys center Andre Gurode in 2006. Gurode needed 30 stitches to close the wound. The league suspended Haynesworth for five games without pay, its harshest penalty ever for an on-field transgression.
John Russell, AP
Vancouver's Todd Bertuzzi grabbed Colorado's Steve Moore from behind and punched him in the side of the head during a game in 2004. Moore sustained fractured vertebrae in his neck, facial injuries and a concussion. Bertuzzi forfeited about $500,000 due to suspension by the league.
CP, Rogers Sportsnet / AP
Dennis Rodman showed that he took the Pistons' Bad Boys nickname seriously when he kicked cameraman Eugene Amos in the groin during a sideline entanglement in 1997. Amos was carried from the court on a stretcher. Rodman, who scoffed at the seriousness of the injury, was suspended 11 games and fined $25,000.
Sports Channel Chicago, NBA / AP
Boston's Marty McSorley swung his stick and hit the Canucks' Donald Brashear in the head in 2000 during a game in Vancouver. Brashear hit his head on the ice and lost consciousness. McSorley was found guilty of assault and sentenced to 18 months probation. The NHL suspended him for a year and he never played in the league again.
Gerry Kahrman, Vancouver Province / AP
Figure skater Nancy Kerrigan was clubbed on the knees in 1994 by Shane Stant, who had been hired by rival Tonya Harding's husband, Jeff Gillooly. Kerrigan was unable to defend her title at the U.S. Figure Skating Championships due to her injuries.