Three weeks ago, in what should've been the meaningless final seconds of a Jets blowout win, Cardinals quarterback Kurt Warner threw an ill-advised pass to wide receiver Anquan Boldin, led him right into Jets safety Eric Smith, who leveled the Pro Bowler, rendered him unconscious, and fractured his sinus membrane in the process.
Smith was also knocked unconscious on the play, but his helmet-to-helmet hit on Boldin prompted the NFL to literally add insult to injury: they fined Smith $50,000 and suspended him for one game. The problem, though, is that Jets safety Kerry Rhodes, as the video evidence clearly shows, pushed Boldin from behind, and right into Smith. Otherwise, it would've been just another hard-hitting football play, and the focus perhaps would have shifted to the more important question: why were the Cardinals throwing the ball down 21 with less than a minute on the clock?
Unfortunately, the league office was uninterested in whether Smith intentionally tried to maim Boldin, and made that abundantly clear during the appeal. "They told me intent wasn't looked at," Smith said, which lead him to this very reasonable question: "I tried to say my intentions weren't to hit him like that and they told me intent wasn't looked at. If intent isn't involved, then why isn't every fine the same?"
Well, no one's ever accused the NFL of anything but arbitrarily meting out punishments, and Smith's case is just a recent example. Most reasonable people would agree that the fine for Cardinals safety Adrian Wilson's vicious hit on Bills quarterback Trent Edwards is more than 2.5 times as egregious as Ronnie Brown's touchdown dance. Yet, Wilson was fined $25,000 and Brown earned a $10,000 fine. Which, according to the league, means that Wilson-Edwards half as bad as the Smith-Boldin. Makes sense.