Wednesday, October 4, 2006

Toughen up NFL

Millions of NFL fans and Sportscenter viewers witnessed one of the worst episodes of in-game NFL football hooligan violence when Tennessee Titans defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth literally stomped the forehead of Dallas Cowboys center Andre Gurode after a Cowboys touchdown early in the third quarter of the Oct. 1 Titans-Cowboys game.

Haynesworth was ejected, and afterward appeared apologetic and regretful. Monday, the NFL suspended Haynesworth for five games without pay. In a statement, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said, "There is absolutely no place in the game, or anywhere else, for the inexcusable action that occurred in yesterday's (Sunday) Titans/Cowboys game."

So why not send a real message to the league? As it is now, five games is the longest a player has ever been suspended in the NFL for an on-field action, but is that really enough? If Haynesworth's cleat aim would have been off, he could have missed and stomped on Gurode's eyes, potentially blinding him and ending his entire career.

In the NHL, Todd Bertuzi of the Vancouver Canucks was suspended for the entire season, including the playoffs, after
blindsiding Colorado Avalanche forward Steve Moore in March, 2004. Bertuzi was charged with assault by Vancouver, authorities, and is still involved in a multi-million dollar civil suit. Moore's hockey career is over, and he is suing for nearly $20 million in lost wages and other punitive damages. In that instance, the NHL acted appropriately and sent a huge
message to the rest of the league: act like a thug and you'll be treated like one.

The NFL needs to suspend Haynesworth for the rest of the season to really prove that there is no place for this extreme behavior and, more especially, to prevent this type of act from happening again.
Eric Kochneff
DI columnist

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