When the NFL competition committee in March first proposed rules changes aimed at further policing late hits or what it deemed as unnecessary roughness and excessive contact, The Sports Xchange dubbed the tweaks the "James Harrison Rules," since the Pittsburgh linebacker and former league defensive player of the year was fined $100,000 in 2010 for roughhouse play.
This week, some of the media termed the changes "The Steelers Rules" when the proposals were passed by a 32-0 vote at the league meeting in Indianapolis. Of course, league officials took umbrage to that characterization - not to mention the reactions of Harrison (who termed the rules makers "idiots") and fellow linebacker Lamarr Woodley and comments of team president Art Rooney II -- and stressed that several other franchises would likely have drawn punishment in 2010 had the new rules, which permits the NFL to fine club for repeat violations, been in effect.
It's difficult to say which teams were under the microscope, but a team official, who is not on the competition committee, told The Sports Xchange that Tennessee and Philadelphia were "almost probably" among them. The Eagles had seven players fined a total of $135,000 in 2010; Tennessee accrued $130,000 in fines, not counting the $40,000 meted out to then-defensive coordinator Chuck Cecil for an obscene gesture, to seven players. That included $45,000 to cornerback Courtland Finnegan, who was sanctioned on four occasions.
There were eight players fined more than once in the league and eight franchises that had four or more players fined for on-field conduct. Amazingly, Harrison and Woodley were the only Pittsburgh players fined during the regular season. The league dispensed 99 fines for on-field or field-related acts, and it's believed that Miami and St. Louis were the only franchises that did not have a single player draw a fine.
--Wide receiver Hines Ward will have surgery to repair ligament damage to his left thumb, according to the Pittsburgh Tribune-review.
Ward won "Dancing with the Stars" with professional partner Kym Johnson on Tuesday night, beating out actresses Kirstie Alley and Chelsea Kane in the finals. Ward, 35, worked through the thumb injury during the show after finishing last season with 59 catches for 755 yards and five touchdowns.
--Cornerback Ike Taylor is scheduled to be a free agent when the lockout ends, but he made clear on the Jim Rome is Burning show that there won't be a hometown discount.
"I need that market value. I work so hard," Taylor said. "I've been through so much, I feel so unappreciated, feel so underrated at my position, I feel like it's my time to get my worth, in whatever city that's in."
As for staying with the Steelers, he said, "I would love to, but they usually sign player a year before (free agency), so we'll see what happens."
--Safety Troy Polamalu received his degree on Friday in ceremonies at Southern Cal.
In addition, while finishing work on his degree, Polamalu has been rehabbing an injured Achilles at his home in Los Angeles.
The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reported that Polamalu should be ready for the start of training camp and that he has been working with an orthopedic surgeon that is "friendly with the Steelers' medical staff."
--The Rooney family, including Steelers Chair Emeritus Dan Rooney and President Art Rooney II, topped the list of the best NFL owners in a poll conducted by ESPN.com. The Rooneys were voted first or second on all eight panelists' ballots.
The Patriots' Robert Kraft was second, followed by the executive committee of the Packers, John Mara and Steve Tisch of the Giants and Jeffrey Lurie of the Eagles. Rounding out the top 10 were Steve Bisciotti (Ravens), Jim Irsay (Colts), Jerry Jones (Cowboys), Arthur Blank (Falcons) and Woody Johnson (Jets).
--Wide receiver Hines Ward was detained at gunpoint for a short time early Thursday morning (May 5) in North Hollywood, Calif.
Ward is on the West Coast while participating in "Dancing With the Stars."
Hines was with a woman friend when the car was stopped at 1:30 a.m. because it had been reported stolen on April 19.
Ward was briefly handcuffed, but he and the woman were let go when she was able to prove the car was hers.
According to Sgt. Maria Morrison, "She had gone somewhere, misparked it, reported it stolen and found it later" but then neglected to cancel the police report, Morrison said.
The woman's name wasn't released, but Morrison said it wasn't Ward's partner on the dance show.
Reached by ESPN for comment, Ward said, "There's not a story. It was a misunderstanding and the police apologized to me. I didn't get arrested. I don't have a reaction to a non-story."
Ward also had some comments on Twitter and the hot water teammate Rashard Mendenhall found himself in last week when he had a succession of tweets after the death of Osama bin Laden.
"Everybody's entitled to their opinion," Ward told ESPN. "But that wasn't a good opinion."
As for Twitter, Ward said, "If that's your opinion leave it as your opinion. When you tweet that out there, you have to deal with the backlashes that come with that. You put everybody out there because everywhere we go we get asked questions about the comments you made. When you tweet like that, you've got to be careful. I'm not a big tweeter because sometimes your emotions get caught up, you speak your mind and it's not always the best thing to say."
--OT Willie Colon remains in limbo. He is, for the third straight year, a restricted free agent if the 2010 rules apply to 2011. The Steelers again did not make him a multi-year contract offer and he's coming off Achilles surgery from last summer that ended his season. OL coach Sean Kugler was asked over the weekend if Colon might be a candidate to move to guard.
"We haven't even discussed anything like that. I do know that I would like to have Willie back."
--Another position coach wants another one of his players back. Carnell Lake, the Steelers' former Pro Bowl safety in his first season as their secondary coach, wants to see them re-sign CB Ike Taylor.
"I hope we get him signed. I think Ike is probably one of the more underrated cornerbacks in the league. He does a very good job of duck and run, and that's a rare talent."
--Among the phone calls Cameron Heyward received the morning after he was drafted came from Dancing With the Stars competitor Hines Ward, welcoming him to the Steelers.
"Unbelievable," Heyward said. "It just shows how much of a class act he is. He told me he was getting ready for his dance moves. I just wished him luck on that. He will be fine though and I will be voting for him. He has just done so much for this game and he is a true competitor."
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