James Harrison has been hit with countless fines over the past few years, leading us to question whether that method of punishing illegal hits actually makes the game any safer. James Harrison acknowledged that the steady stream of fines may finally be changing the way he plays the game.
Harrison said on 105.9 in Pittsburgh that he was slowing down when he got ready to take a shot at Michael Vick, lending credence to the idea that fines may be an effective tool for making the game safer.
I was nervous. I thought he might duck his head, and I might hit him, and I can’t take no fines. I was worried more about the fine. . . . If at the last second he ducks his head, ducks down and we make helmet-to-helmet contact, it’s the fault of the defender. -James Harrison via 105.9
My biggest complain with fines has always been that they don't actually change the way the game is played. At least in this case, it seems that I'm off base with that assessment. If fines are actually changing the way defenders play the game, that should be a good thing.
On the other hand, I don't think the intention of fines was to ever slow defenders down. If that's the way that fines are changing the way the game is played, the NFL may need to consider a change to their current format of fining defenders.