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Column: Polamalu fine for phone call out of bounds
Roger Goodell had some work to do before jetting off across the pond to try and convince the British that they really do need more American football.
There was a letter to write to Congress on plans for HGH testing, a suspension to hand down to Bengals running back Cedric Benson. And, of course, there were the usual weekly fines to lighten the pockets of players who just can’t seem to abide by league rules.
Packers linebacker A.J. Hawk got hit for $10,000 for making an obscene gesture during a win over St. Louis that was caught by television cameras. Teammates Clay Matthews and Tramon Williams received notice they would have to pay $5,000 each for wearing yellow shoes with their throwback uniforms in the same game.
And Troy Polamalu was fined $10,000 for making a phone call.
OK, not just any phone call. The Steelers star was on the sidelines late in the game against Jacksonville when he decided to ring his wife for a brief chat that was also caught by those ubiquitous TV cameras.
That’s a no-no in the NFL, where cell phones are prohibited in the bench area before and during games. Probably a good thing because you never know when a player might decide to use speed dial to order a pizza or call his agent.
Polamalu, though, wasn’t hungry. And he wasn’t trying to get a new endorsement deal.
He was doing what millions of men do every day. Calling his wife from work to let her know everything was OK.
If Polamalu wasn’t thinking clearly when he borrowed a phone from a team doctor to make the call, he’s hardly to blame. He had just been forced out of the game after experiencing concussion-like symptoms after stopping Jacksonville’s Maurice Jones-Drew on a critical third down to help preserve a 17-13 Pittsburgh win.
His wife presumably was watching when it happened. She surely knows better than anyone that her husband has a history of concussions in his nine years in the league.
Polamalu wanted to ease her worries. And it ended up costing him $10,000.
Goodell’s decision to fine Polamalu came as a surprise, at least to his coach. It shouldn’t have, considering Goodell’s history with the team, which included a four-game suspension for Ben Roethlisberger and $100,000 in fines for hits by James Harrison last year. Indeed, a lot of Steeler fans _ and a lot of Steelers themselves _ believe the commissioner has it out for their team.
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