The New York Giants have long been heralded as a class organization. Although there have been a few hiccups here and there, Big Blue generally does a commendable job in keeping its players out of trouble with both the law and the NFL itself.
However, today, the league has come down hard on starters David Baas and Kevin Boothe for physically engaging Tampa Bay Buccaneers defenders after their controversial actions during Eli Manning's kneel down on the final play of the contest. Furthermore, safety Kenny Phillips was fined $30,000 for his crushing blow to Bucs receiver Vincent Jackson.
Both Baas and Boothe were fined $7,875 for striking their opposition in the head and neck areas. On the film, both can be seen engaging Buccaneers defenders in a scrum that carried over to the traditional head coaches hand shake immediately after the game. Surprisingly, Giants head coach Tom Coughlin was not pleased with Greg Schiano's decision to knock down Eli Manning in the final play.
Kenny Phillips' fine stems from a vicious hit he put on Bucs wideout Vincent Jackson. Jackson broke loose of coverage and was in the process of catching a 12-15 yard pass from quarterback Josh Freeman when he was blindsided by Phillips over the middle of the field. There was no penalty called on the play, and the energy gained from the hit propelled the Giants to improve their defensive play for the rest of the game.
In both situations, the Giants had no choice but to put themselves in jeopardy of Roger Goodell imposing stiff penalties. Obviously, the Giants had to retaliate after the Bucs went after Eli Manning on the final play of the game. Not only was the play dangerous, but it put the health of the team's franchise player in question. Big Blue had no choice but to make it known the it will not tolerate cheap shots to it's premier athletes.
With that, Kenny Phillips' hit was a turning point in the game. The Giants looked lethargic until Phillips' devastating hit on the Bucs premier offensive weapon finally injected some life into the defense. It might be fair to say that without that hit, the Giants would have gone to Carolina with an 0-2 record last night.
As unfortunate as it is that the players must take money out of their own pockets to pay for things they would probably do over again if given the chance, the NFL's crusade on player safety has made this a weekly occurrence. The Giants have avoided stiff fined for the most part so far. However, Roger Goodell's policy is so subjective that it doesn't allow players to know what is legal and what isn't until they receive a letter in the mail from the league office. In short, getting fined is just part of the game now, and players are just going to have to deal with it.
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