Transcript from Ray Anderson’s interview on NFL Network

dunta robinson, eagles

FLOWERY BRANCHRay Anderson, the Falcons former vice president, is the NFL’s executive vice president of football operations, and is charge of the crackdown on “dangerous” play.

He went on NFL Network earlier this week to explain the league’s position on the fines that were imposed against Pittsburgh’s James Harrison, New England’s Brandon Merriweather and Atlanta’s Dunta Robinson.

Anderson played football and baseball for three years at Stanford and later graduated from Harvard Law School. Before taking the job with the Falcons, he was an agent and represented a number of players and coaches, including Tony Dungy and Dennis Green.

Here’s the transcript from Anderson’s interview:

On sending a message with $175,000 worth of fines from illegal hits in Week 6:

RA:  We hope are sending a message empathically that going forward hits to the head that are illegal under our existing and current rules will be dealt with at a higher level.  Players and coaches need to know that accountability is elevated, and we are not going back.

On why no suspensions were issued this week:

RA:  There was a lot of discussion internally about suspending players, but I think at the end of the day, we want to be fair.  The notion was that if you are going to have this elevated discipline, then give players, coaches and organizations fair notice.  Going forward, we want to send the message loud and clear that discipline – including fines and suspensions for multiple games for repeat offenders or flagrant and blatant violators – will be on the table so they should play and comport themselves accordingly.

On the rule protecting defenseless players:

RA:  The rule is Rule 12, Section 2, Article 8.  The folks who really follow this can have that in front of them.  It says that we are going to protect defenseless players – not just defenseless receivers but defenseless players across the board.  We have defined categories of what amounts to a defenseless player.

When it comes to head and neck injuries, we are going to be aggressive at preventing them.  If the initial contact to a defenseless player is with the forearm, the shoulder or a helmet, it is illegal under the existing rules.  We are going to have players understand that and coaches teach to that.  Indeed we are going to enforce that and make them accountable to the letter of the law because we cannot tolerate these types of head and neck injuries in our game.  We are going to be aggressive about making sure we discipline accordingly.

On specific instances involving defenseless players in Week 6:

RA:  Brandon Meriweather and Dunta Robinson were first-time offenders in both cases.  Granted Dunta’s case was kind of a bang-bang play, but nevertheless under the rules, it is illegal.  A helmet, shoulder or forearm that ends up having helmet contact as a result is illegal under the rules so we have to enforce it.

In Meriweather’s case, there is no place for that in the NFL.  It was a gratuitous shot, and some internally here would term it as a ‘cheap shot.’  It has no place in the game.

$50,000 fines for each of them as first-time offenders.  That was the rationale for that.

On retroactive suspensions and fines:

RA:  We won’t reach back.  Going forward, the competition committee will review all these plays, and there may be some additional tweaks to the rules to further protect against head and neck injuries through these violent hits.  We will not go back for players who have been fined prior to this last weekend’s games to assess discipline.  What we’re trying to say very clearly going forward is that everyone should be on notice.  The line should be clear.  If you go over that line, you should anticipate that elevated discipline up to and including suspensions.  In flagrant and egregious cases, multiple-game suspensions will be on the table.

On concerns about changing the way football is played:

RA:  We are concerned about making the game safe for our players.  This just isn’t about the NFL.  We understand that what we do is emulated sometimes in colleges and high schools and youth and peewee leagues.  We are more concerned about keeping our players safe and by example, hopefully, keeping other levels of play safe.  We understand that fans want the physicality of the business.  They like the physical nature of the game.  What we are insisting our players do, however, is do that within the rules that are trying to make our players safe and healthy for the long term.

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80 comments Add your comment

Rich T

October 22nd, 2010
7:34 am

Did he happen to say exactly when the NFL would fully convert to a flag football league? Will that be part of the new CBA?

D. Orlando Ledbetter

October 22nd, 2010
7:51 am

Rich T — I think they are just asking the defenders to make a “football move” as opposed to a “wrestling move.” Football move = form tackle. Wrestling move = launching off top rope. This is not the end of big hits.

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Season Ticket Holder

October 22nd, 2010
8:01 am

After watching the examples of illegal hit on ESPN. I still don’t think that Dunta Robinson hit was illegal. It was a good hard lick. This new rule will cause more confusion as refs are left to make a judgement call.

D Falcons

October 22nd, 2010
8:13 am

After watching Mr. Anderson’s “How to play good football” video, I’m even more perplexed that Robinson’s hit is being called out as illegal. I didn’t a difference between “A great player making a great play” (the Lewis hit) and Robinson’s. Didn’t they both lead with the shoulder? The only difference I saw was that the player Dunta hit ricocheted more. I know what the league wants to do, but it seems that they’re really adding even more subjectivity to the officiating.

D Falcons

October 22nd, 2010
8:15 am

One more thing, DOL, do you think that Mr. Anderson has an issue with the Falcons? This is the second straight year where Falcons personnel have taken a huge hit on a controversial discipline situation.

Mike Jay

October 22nd, 2010
8:18 am

This will result in less concussions but more leg/knee injuries as players will now try and tackle lower. I have seen a lot of examples of WR’s turning their head at the last second and intiating the ‘illegal’ contact with a defender. DOL, any word on if they will be fined for this?

Joe Tess Fish House

October 22nd, 2010
8:37 am

No way can U say Robinsons hit was leagle It was a cheep shot and a dirty play. I keep sayin this but Robisnons need 2 be band 4 life.

Johnny Fever

October 22nd, 2010
8:37 am

We could convert to basketball rules….

Johnny Fever

October 22nd, 2010
8:43 am

@TESS, Why do you not like robinson? He is not known to ge a dirty player, so why the hate??????

Joe Tess Fish House

October 22nd, 2010
8:47 am

I dont hat him. I hate that he could of have kilt that oter guy. It was a dirty play and that makes him a dirty player.

Damage Inc.

October 22nd, 2010
8:54 am

I think Fish House Joe should fill in for Dunta. Shouldn’t be hard, there’s a MARTA station at the dome.

Johnny Fever

October 22nd, 2010
8:56 am

Is tess 8yo?

Damage Inc.

October 22nd, 2010
9:02 am

must be all the mercury in the fish he eats

cgw

October 22nd, 2010
9:04 am

First of all, Dunta’s hit was hard but legal, he hit him with his shoulder in the chest. At no time did I see Dunta hit the guys head. This is football. It’s violent and hard hitting, pretty soon you will not even be tackle a player. Fans want to see a hard hitting football game, not some kind of tag football.

Damage Inc.

October 22nd, 2010
9:04 am

Same hit, same game. If neither go down and the receiver scores would he have been fined?

jb

October 22nd, 2010
9:06 am

There was no helmet to helmet contact in the Dunta hit. By rule it was legal.

Damage Inc.

October 22nd, 2010
9:11 am

The league needs to extend the yardage where it’s legal to contact a reciever. That will slow down that part of the field without handicapping the defense.

truth

October 22nd, 2010
9:26 am

Tess….it’s okay to hate the Falcons. But to be outright STUPID, now that’s a horse of a different color. Your comments are always based on your IQ and dang it boy it shows. Ok Tess, look at your feet….ok now get a shovel and dig 30 feet and BAM, you have reached the level of your IQ.

uga_b

October 22nd, 2010
9:30 am

DOL, did Ray Anderson address how one is supposed to tackle without using their shoulder? I mean, the rule was limited the head and neck and Dunta hit Jackson in the sternum shoulder area, which has not in my estimation ever been defined as the neck area in the history of human existence.

uga_b

October 22nd, 2010
9:34 am

DOL, quick question about the appeal process: if Dunta can show, like the replay clearly does, that his shoulder did not make contact to the head/neck area could he get the fine thrown out? Meaning the fine is directly attached to the violation and cannot be just assessed anyway?

falcon83

October 22nd, 2010
9:46 am

Not only was there in helmet to helmet, but no shoulder pad to helmet, or forearm to helmet. Someone please explain to me, by NFL rules. How is this hit illegal? And another thing, I thought that they took out the force out rule, so the refs didn’t have to make a judgment call. Now aren’t we asking them to make another judgment call?

Joe Tess Fish House

October 22nd, 2010
9:52 am

Im tired of U all calling me names and pickin on me. This will be my last post sense u all cant take my take on things. 2 bad U all have to ask like childeren here.

So long DOL

Ken Hicks

October 22nd, 2010
9:52 am

LeSean Jackson had an opportunity to take a step and his head was turned when Robinson hit him. He was also rotating his upper torso and making what appeared to me to be a move upfield at the time of the strike, which could provide a plausible reason for Robinson’s helmet hitting his shoulder. It’s not like Jackson was a stationary target.

While we’re at it, why not fine QB Kolb for throwing Jackson into that situation? Kolb at least owes Jackson a nice dinner. Likewise, why not fine Jackson for running so fast? Football is a collision sport. Technology — in the form of new helmets — can do more to reduce concussions than jacking up fines and suspensions. Merriweather’s hit was cheap and deserved a fine and suspension. Robinson’s hit did not merit either.

Sid

October 22nd, 2010
9:53 am

Joe Fish, you love to promote yourself as totally ignorant…………too bad because I bet you can Hoover some crawfish heads

Sid

October 22nd, 2010
9:54 am

Hicks……………..fine Jackson for running so fast…………..now that’s funny!

Sid

October 22nd, 2010
9:59 am

Even if Jax had dropped that ball (before the hit) DR wasn’t in a position to pull up, Jax would have gotten popped anyway.

I would like to take a moment to extend a special mahalo to our good friend Hoe Fess Tish Jouse. Don’t let the door hit ya where the good Lord split ya. Any chance you could get that peeshwank Seen to go with you………..??

Sid

October 22nd, 2010
10:02 am

Bottom line is it is obvious Dunta didn’t attempt to take his head off, just a tiny message of this is what happens when you try to come in our middle.

Would this possibly mean more teams will go to the middle of the field on a pass knowing that the D is gonna be P whipped about popping the receiver?

Sid

October 22nd, 2010
10:03 am

Good day Gentlemen, momma says I have to go.

Joes Steak palace

October 22nd, 2010
10:03 am

So sory 2 see U go Joe. Dont let theys fools ascared you away.

Damage Inc.

October 22nd, 2010
10:06 am

Where did ya come from, where did ya goooo….nobody’s missing ya fish eyed Joe.

I love it when they sing that song in Texas Roadhouse

Joes Steak palace

October 22nd, 2010
10:13 am

Sid how did U no Robinson did not try 2 take the WR head of? You say it obvious but how do U no 4 sure?

Johnny Fever

October 22nd, 2010
10:16 am

The NFL is getting too soft. There is no reason for the call on Robinson. It was the violince that they did not condone.

Sid

October 22nd, 2010
10:23 am

Joes Steak palace

October 22nd, 2010
10:13 am
**************************************************
Fish, because he had the opportunity to go helmet to helmet but actually stuck him in the chest between the shoulder and sternum, damn good football hit.

Joes Steak palace

October 22nd, 2010
10:24 am

May be me mised with his head.

Sid

October 22nd, 2010
10:25 am

The NFL not condoning violence? Oxymoron defined.

oh and btw

October 22nd, 2010
10:25 am

Joe Tess you are a fuhken idiot.

Sid

October 22nd, 2010
10:25 am

Damage Inc.

October 22nd, 2010
10:54 am

Wonder where STB4 is? I love giving him a good pummeling!

Mike Jay

October 22nd, 2010
11:19 am

IIRC Robinson was fined for hitting a defenseless player and not the helmet, forearm to the head, neck stuff. Pretty sure that non catch would have been a TD i nthe endzone so not really sure what Robinson could have done except maybe waited a half a second? Half a second should not equal 50,000 unloess you are JOe Tesh paying a hooker for her services.

Mid-west Falcon Fan

October 22nd, 2010
11:21 am

I agree with all. Cheap shots have no place in the game, but hard hits and sending a message does. Come across the middle and you will pay. I agree Dunta’s hit was not a dirty play. What’s next, a running back being fined for lowering his head and pads. You see this all the time, he lowers his head and drops a load on a small corner back.

truth

October 22nd, 2010
11:25 am

Joe steak (aka Joe fish)= IDIOT. IQ if a rock. A 30 feet below ground level rock.

Michael

October 22nd, 2010
11:35 am

Don’t go away Joe !
You’re posts are always good for comic relief !

Damage Inc.

October 22nd, 2010
11:38 am

Truth- IQ if a rock… you’re better than that. Quit typing with your feet.

blord

October 22nd, 2010
11:40 am

“2 bad U all have to ask like childeren here.” LOL

Damage Inc.

October 22nd, 2010
11:42 am

U know we like h8ten on peeple who dont do no spel chekin

FrontRow

October 22nd, 2010
12:01 pm

I don’t hear anything from the league about policing the offensive players. Like Mid-west said…running backs lay out shoulder to helmet on almost every play….the bigger backs try it every play.

I’ll say it again….a guy the size of DeSean Jackson has NO BUSINESS running wind sprints across the teeth of the Falcons D. In running the play, the Eagles got what they asked for.

Earlier in the game, Jackson ran a reverse where JA#55 totally missed contain. If #55 stays home, he plants the sprinting Jackson in the backfield.

The brand of football the Eagles run is pitiful…they have fast little smurfs that are taught to lay down on the ground when crossing the middle. Jackson got caught before he could lay down and, when you run that brand of prima donna football you are going to get caught.

It will happen to the Eagles again this year.

Eric C.

October 22nd, 2010
12:01 pm

I’ve got a feeling the passing defense numbers are going to be ugly this week with Robinson and Weatherspoon out. The Falcons had better get a good pass rush are this could be an embarassing loss at home. The Falcons must break the trend of slow starts…that is imperative. The last home game saw SF jump to a 14-0 lead and the bengals can’t be allowed to do that. Frankly, If I were an objective outsider, I’d be putting $ on the Bengals this game with them coming off the bye week.

truth

October 22nd, 2010
12:07 pm

Sorry Damage.

Palmpressure

October 22nd, 2010
12:17 pm

Why is everyone jumping down poor little Joe Fish’s throat and not Ray Anderson’s. I can understand Joe’s position even though I disagree with it. The poor guy probably have never played the game of football. But, Ray is just proving himself to be another iddiot. I’ve played both high school and collegiate football. And anyone who’ve played any type of football knows that you’re more likelyto get hurt going half-speed than full-speed. Especially, on defense. Football is a game which demands that you play it full-speed. It’s not for BSers or crybabies. It’s for players who take the game seriously. Anderson should know better. I expected his comments to come from people like poor Joe, not an NFL executive.