The Dallas Morning News reported today that outside linebacker Anthony Spencer will appeal a $5,000 fine handed down by the NFL for a face mask on Denver's Kyle Orton, during last Sunday's 17-10 loss.
The penalty occurred in the early third quarter, as Spencer swiped at the ball from behind, only to end up with a handful of face mask. A fifteen yard penalty and, eventually, a $5,000 fine were handed down, standard protocol on such plays. But Spencer's situation will contribute (in some limited capacity) to a much larger debate.
That is, does the NFL coddle quarterbacks too much?
One would be hard-pressed to say no (unless they live in Massachusetts) in the wake of a pair of monumentally soft calls against the Ravens, during their game last week with Tom Brady and his Patriots. Much like Spencer's infraction, the two Ravens' penalties were completely incidental, and ultimately, completely harmless.
Of course, seeing Terrell Suggs fall at Brady's knees will conjure ugly scenes from 2008--read: Brady writhing on the ground, clutching at his knee.
The difficulty of this argument is that the quarterback--the most vulnerable position in football, what with looking down field, and attempting to throw with proper mechanics--has the right to be protected and, indeed, must be protected, if the NFL is to flourish. But alienating pass rushers with calls like those on Sunday in Foxboro is not the way to accomplish this end.
This is a problem compounded by the fact that, in this instance, each (weak) call led to a Patriots touchdown.
Protecting quarterbacks is important; but protecting the integrity of the game is absolutely crucial.