The League

Anthony Stalter
National Blogger

Anthony Stalter

Senior Sports Editor for The Scores Report

Accepting exception

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Whether you agree with them or not, all rules serve a purpose. They're in place because the idea is to keep things fair for everyone and to create a level playing field for all parties involved.

That said, there are exceptions to every rule and NFL commissioner Roger Goodell should keep that in mind if he's thinking about doling out fines to Brandon Marshall or Chad Ochocinco after they each paid tribute to the late Chris Henry, on Sunday.

Before the Broncos-Raiders Week 15 game in Denver, Marshall wore a jersey with "Henry" written on the back, but wore his regular jersey during the game. Ochocinco carried Henry's jersey onto the field before the Bengals' contest against the Chargers, then dropped to his knees and pointed to the sky after catching a touchdown during the game.

Neither player should be fined for his tribute to Henry, because neither act took away from the game. If Ochocinco scored and then set up a video montage of Henry's life, then I would see the league having a problem with that. But fining a guy for dropping to his knees and pointing to the sky or wearing a jersey with "Henry" on the back would be ridiculous.

The problem is that the league fined Steelers' safety Ryan Clark $5,000 for wearing eye black with the No. 21 etched into it after Sean Taylor died a couple years ago. And Ryan's act didn't take away from the game either, so where does the league draw the line? Do they fine for some demonstrations and not others? Or do they fine for everything and call it a day?

I get why the league wouldn't want to bend the rules in some instances, but they should have never fined Clark and they shouldn't fine Marshall or Ochocinco. The league already has enough rules in place for end zone celebrations and uniform infractions. Fining Marshall and Ochocinco for what they did would be excessive.

If the league truly wants to be a family, then they should honor family members when they've fallen. Every stadium in the NFL on Sunday held a moment of silence to honor Henry's death. So why can't individual players pay their own tributes if their actions don't take away from the game itself?

You can have rules, but holding every rule to the letter of the law seems unnecessary in instances like these.

By Anthony Stalter  |  December 21, 2009; 2:21 PM ET Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
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