Let me take you back, oh, exactly 24 hours ago, when in this very space — this sacred Chain Links space — we discussed Tom Brady’s poor sliding technique. Like most things Tom Brady, the topic won’t die.

And rightfully so, I might add. As I said then in reaction to Bernard Pollard”s first comments on Brady’s kick in the direction of Ed Reed when he was sliding with 20 seconds left in the second quarter of the AFC Championship game, there was a strong stench to his very awkward, very douchey-looking slide. At best, it was stupid, and at worst it was a completely unnecessary lack of sportsmanship, and a blatant disregard for one of the few areas of etiquette in football. Namely, if you’re giving yourself up on a play you should, well, give yourself up on a play.

But Pollard wasn’t done with just his post-game remarks in which he called Brady’s slide “bull crap“. He wants the league to take a look.

That will likely happen, but Brady haters need to process something now. There’s zero chance that he’ll be disciplined, and that’s sort of a good thing.

There are a lot of similarities between this incident, and Ndamukong Suh’s judo kick to Matt Schaub’s groin back on Thanksgiving Day. In that case, Suh was falling to the ground near Schaub after being blocked, and in the process his leg whipped around and caught the Texans quarterback square in the ol’ twig and berries. But even in real-time it looked like there was far more than just a natural falling motion involved, and when Suh realized he was close to the opposing QB he subtly added an extra little kick. He was eventually fined $30,000, but that wasn’t nearly enough in the eyes of many who wanted a suspension.

The problem with the Suh and Brady cases is that when the league is handing out discipline, it can’t get into the business of mind reading. Although there’s certainly a shady element to both plays — more so the Brady kick than Suh’s, but regardless — it’s impossible to definitively determine the intent of either player. Brady is a terrific quarterback, but maybe this was just an instance when a slide was executed with horribly poor form.

Yeah, we doubt that too, but guessing intent while disciplining players could easily have awful consequences down the road if that precedent is set now.

However, it’s easy to understand why Pollard is pissed, and why even after a day to sleep on it he’s still pursuing this with comments to the media. Comments like this one:

“When you slide…everything is on the ground. He knew what he was doing,” Pollard said. “It has to go both ways. Hopefully the NFL will do something about it.”

“It has to go both ways”…Yes, Bernard, the rules should go both ways. But that’s not the reality of the NFL right now. Reed was able to stop his momentum and avoid hitting a sliding quarterback, an act that would have been a significant penalty, possibly leading to more points on the scoreboard (New England was held to a field goal that second-half ending drive). He also likely would have been fined.

Mind reading aside, there’s a lean towards the offense and specifically quarterbacks within the current structure of NFL discipline. That’s not about to change soon either. They’re the league’s moneymakers, and they always will be.

And now the links part of the links post…

  • Sean Weatherspoon is an NFL insider, even though he’s still an NFL player. He’s convinced that teammate Tony Gonzalez will be back next year. [CBS]
  • Wes Welker’s wife has apologized for her Gisele impression. [NESN]
  • We’re mostly focused on the Super Bowl around these parts, as is our usual late January tradition. But the Senior Bowl is this week, and that kicks off the frenzy of draft season in earnest. Alen Dumonjic will break down the top prospects on Thursday and Friday. But for now, here are some interview notes from media night. [Optimum Scouting]
  • Do you have an hour to spare in your morning? Of course you do. Here’s an hour of a young Jim Harbaugh yelling at his University of San Diego team, which climaxes in the smashing of an overhead projector. [SB Nation]
  • So there’s a very enthusiastic 49ers stripper on the Internet. You’re welcome. [Busted Coverage]

Comments (2)

  1. so we can’t assume intent? but we can assume no intent? you can’t have it both ways, either way you are mind reading. the play should be assessed on the actions and not whether there was intent or not. the play was dirty and “dangerous” and brady should be disciplined.

    • No one’s assuming no intent either, and that’s the point. We can’t assume anything.

      Generally, players are punished for actions that are clearly defined. If a player, say, punches another player in the head, that’s pretty obvious. But we have no idea whether or not Brady meant to kick Reed in the groin. We only have opinions.

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