Mike Smith Fined -- DeAngelo Hall Gets Off Scot-Free
The NFL office has decided that fines should be handed out to four individuals. Falcons head coach Mike Smith received the biggest fine of $15,000 and Director of Athletic Performance Jeff Fish was slapped with a $2,500 fine. Two Redskins players were also fined -- Albert Haynesworth at $7,500 and LaRon Landry at $5,000.
Absent from being fined for any wrong-doing is DeAngelo Hall, who appeared to instigate the entire incident. That has many Falcons fans and local media personnel hopping-mad. Jeff Schultz, a columnist for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution calls the fines "Nonsensical", mainly due to the fact that Hall was left unscathed by the NFL.
From my vantage point in the press box (and the play did happen directly in front of us), and after watching the video many times, I completely agree with the way the NFL handled the situation. Let's look at the facts.
Landry's hit on Ryan was most definitely late -- a bonehead decision that was rightfully penalized. But he and Ryan bounced up after the play and returned to the field. Had Landry stayed on the field instead of joining Haynesworth on the sideline to assist in "retrieving" Hall, he wouldn't have been fined. But,since he and Haynesworth went back into the scuffle they rightfully were fined.
Mike Smith and Jeff Fish both made physical contact with Hall after the Redskins defensive back appeared on the Falcons sideline. They didn't swing or throw any punches at Hall, but they did grab him. And they did so somewhat aggressively while exchanging verbal jabs.
Smith has argued that his part in the incident was as a peace keeper and many have pointed out that he was just trying to protect his quarterback. I'm not sure the defense of Matt Ryan argument holds water, as Ryan was already back out on the field preparing for the next play. The first instinct by Smith and the Falcons coaching staff may have been rage towards Landry for the late hit, but once both players left the sideline and Hall showed up, the "meeting" was no longer about Ryan, it was personal.
Hall should never have opened his mouth on the Falcons sideline -- he was already there as the play had drawn him over -- but the smart thing to do would have been to head back out with Landry and Ryan. He didn't leave the sideline and once the shouting started, pushing, shoving and grabbing ensued.
Hall didn't do anything to deserve a fine. He showed terrible judgment by staying on the sideline to run his mouth. You can even argue that he showed immaturity and more poor judgment with negative comments he made the week prior to the game about the Falcons and general manager Thomas Dimitroff. But none of those events are worthy of a fine from the league, even if they led to, if not caused, the whole sideline disturbance.
When the NFL handed out $30,000 in fines, they issued them justly and to the right individuals -- leaving nobody out. The league got it right in this case. But, Mike Smith got it right too. It's true that he shouldn't have put his hands on DeAngelo Hall. In the eyes of the NFL that's a no-no. But, Smith earned major points in the locker room for standing up for his team. Whether he was standing up for Ryan after the late hit or for the team as a whole after Hall had spent the better part of a week running his mouth, Smith let every person in the Falcons organization know that he has their back.
That sentiment alone is worth the $15,000 fine Smith received.