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“The punishment did not fit the crime.”

NFL Players Association executive director DeMaurice Smith wouldn’t directly answer whether the league had consulted with the union before toughening up the penalties, saying simply that he talked to Commissioner Roger Goodell every day.

“We are going to look at this issue along with the league,” Smith said at an event in St. Paul, Minn. “I am for anything that keeps our players safer. But at the same time, I don’t look at everything in a simple microcosm.”

Browns president Mike Holmgren said it was important to have game video reviewed by officials familiar with the nuances of tackling.

“I think most of the time you can look at a play as a coach and say, ‘You know what? That didn’t have to happen,’” said Holmgren, the former Seattle and Green Bay coach. “And then sometimes you look at a play and say, ‘Unavoidable. It was just one of those things.’

“I don’t know if they are going to make that distinction yet, and I think it’s a very important distinction.”

Steelers coach Mike Tomlin favored stricter enforcement of helmet hits, although he still thought Harrison’s tackle on Massaquoi was legal.

“I think we need to safeguard the men that play this game to the best of our abilities and make it as safe as we can,” he said.

The men being safeguarded didn’t necessarily agree. Vikings defensive end Ray Edwards predicted players wouldn’t change how they hit.

“If we get fined, we get fined,” he said. “But the suspension stuff? That’s taking it a little too far. I mean, it is football. We all signed up to play this game. Things happen. You can’t alter the way you play the game. Sometimes that’s how you get touchdowns.”


AP Pro Football Writer Barry Wilner and AP Sports Writers Jon Krawczynski in St. Paul, Minn., Alan Robinson in Pittsburgh and Tom Withers in Berea, Ohio, contributed to this story.