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Titans' Finnegan calls NFL's crackdown on flagrant hits 'crazy'

  • By NFL.com
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Count Cortland Finnegan among the NFL players who dislike the league's toughened stance against flagrant hits.

The Tennessee Titans cornerback, who has been fined numerous times by the league for infractions, recently sounded off to The Tennessean, saying "a guy who has never played the game" -- NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell -- is putting defensive players at a disadvantage.

"You have milliseconds -- not even seconds -- and it's not like you try to do it," said Finnegan, a five-year veteran who made the Pro Bowl in 2008. "It just so happens in that split-second you have a chance to tackle a guy, and sometimes it happens to be that way. Last year, having to dive at guys' knees because you're not sure. ... If they duck, and you're still helmet-to-helmet with them, then it is your fine, it is a penalty on you.

"It has sort of taken the edge of the players who really like the physical play. But I'm not surprised. It's crazy."

Finnegan's Titans teammates agreed but said so in less-biting terms.

"It is one of those things where we're going to complain and moan when the ref throws a flag, but at the same time, we know the league is trying to protect its players," linebacker Gerald McRath said. "We have no choice (but) to respect it because at the end of the day, no player wants to see another player injured. But that still doesn't make it any easier for us."

Added cornerback Jason McCourty: "We have been playing football our entire lives, and at the highest level, the highest speed, to try and change the way you play, it is really tough. You want to try and avoid some of those penalties because they hurt your team so much, but it is tough. People pay the money to come to the games to see the offense, so you figure that's the way it's going to go."

The NFL said at its spring meeting that it planned to fine teams whose players have made multiple flagrant hits. It has become known as the "Steelers rule" after Pittsburgh linebacker James Harrison's tackles drew the league's ire -- and four fines for a total of $100,000 last season. Steelers owner Dan Rooney recently expressed his displeasure with the moniker.

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