Steelers safety Troy Polamalu (right) apparently has become the spokesman for a new generation of old-school players. He's upset that some of his teammates have been fined for what the NFL considers unnecessary roughness and wonders if the game has gone soft.
"I think regarding the evolution of football, it's becoming more and more flag football, two-hand touch," Polamalu told reporters at the Steelers training facility. "We've really lost the essence of what real American football is about. I think it's probably all about money. They're not really concerned about safety."
Hines Ward (boo-hoo), James Harrison, Nate Washington and Ryan Clark drew fines totalling $45,000 for their conduct in the Steelers Oct. 5 game against Jacksonville, drawing complaints from coach Mike Tomlin and team chairman Dan Rooney.
Polamalu went a step further and said that football is being turned into a "pansy game" and said that the former defensive greats of the game could not have functioned under the current system of discipline.
"When you see guys like Dick Butkus, the Ronnie Lotts, the Jack Tatums, these guys really went after people," Polamalu said. "Now, they couldn't survive in this type of game. They wouldn't have enough money. They'd be paying fines all the time and they'd be suspended for a year after they do it two games in a row. It's kind of ridiculous."
Now, Troy is a former USC guy, so I usually cut him a lot of slack, but he probably took this a little too far. Former Oakland defensive back Jack Tatum provided the rationale for the more protective rules that are in place now when his brutal hit in a preseason game turned Patriots receiver Darryl Stingley into a quadriplegic.
There's no question the NFL has gone a little overboard at times in its attempt to protect the players -- the Terrell Suggs roughing call two weeks ago is a good example -- but the rules against egregious hits are more than justified because today's players are much bigger and faster than they were in the days of Dick Butkus.
Don't you agree? Or would you like to read the entire story before making up your mind?