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NFL Puts Coal in James Harrison’s Stocking

Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images
As a Pittsburgh Steeler fan I’ve seen linebacker James Harrison make some incredible plays and some painful hits. The NFL has seen a few too. A few too many. Harrison was suspended for the Monday night game against the 49ers for the helmet-to-helmet smack on Browns QB Colt McCoy. I think I know why.

As a parent of young children, I look forward to this time of year because my kids still believe in the magic of Christmas. In their minds, Santa flies through the night Christmas Eve, lands on our deck (because that’s where we leave the carrots for the reindeer), climbs down the chimney, and deposits presents under the tree. It is awesome to see the spectacle on Christmas morning. But, there is another reason I, and other parents I have spoken to, like the month of December…..the use of the “threat” of coal in the stocking.

Not eating your veggies? Santa’s watching. Pushing your sister? Santa’s watching! Running in the store?!? Santa’s watching!!! It’s like having an invisible nanny. I would never put coal in my kids stockings and I have never heard of any other parents doing it, but the threat is usually enough to stop the bad behavior. A kids get older, old enough to stop believing, parents lose the “Santa’s Watching” tactic. I’m not there yet but I imagine it’s replaced with “clean your room or no IPhone 4S for Christmas!”

This is how I look at these helmet-to-helmet, defenseless player, situations in football. In the case of the NFL, the fines are the threat. The coal in the stocking is the suspension that I imagine no player believed would happen.

Hit a defenseless receiver? Flag. Fine. Roger Goodell’s watching. Hit a quarterback after the play was over? Flag. Fine. Roger Goodell’s watching. James Harrison and I’m sure no other player thought they would miss a game due to a big hit, legal or otherwise, but NFL players were just taught an important lesson….play within the rules and there is a chance you get a big silver football and a trip to Disney….play dirty and you will be sitting home, with coal in your stocking.

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