Week 9 of the NFL regular season is just about in the books, but it’s a routine play from Week 8 that had fans, pundits and former players alike crying foul.
Last Sunday, the Baltimore Ravens beat the Arizona Cardinals 31-24 and there wasn’t a ton to analyze about the game after-the-fact.
The Ravens are legitimate Super Bowl contenders, while the woeful Cardinals slumped to a 1-7 record.
As is usual NFL custom, on the Saturday evening before Sunday’s slate of Week 9 games, the league released a comprehensive list of which NFL players were fined and why from the previous week.
Appearing on the Ravens ledger was fullback Patrick Ricard, who was dinged for “unnecessary roughness” and was fined $21,694 for it.
Typically, that would be that and everyone would move on with their lives… but The Baltimore Banner reporter Jonas Shaffer sparked a whole new wave of interest in that fine after posting a viral video of the actual play that triggered the fine.
Here’s a challenge for you: Focus on Ricard (No. 42 in white) in the video below, and try exactly to see what he did wrong:
Ravens FB Patrick Ricard was fined $21,694 for “unnecessary roughness” on this second-quarter play vs. Arizona. pic.twitter.com/mVrOrRgKel
— Jonas Shaffer (@jonas_shaffer) November 4, 2023
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Watch the play a dozen times and it’s still difficult to see what, exactly, Ricard did wrong here.
From virtually every angle, it seemed like a perfectly legal block from the NFL’s premiere blocking fullback.
Pundits and fans all had something to say about the play and the fine — and none of it good.
“They’re fining players simply for blocking and tackling now,” Daily Wire star Matt Walsh posted to X. “The NFL has gone out of its way to promote and hire women to leadership roles and now the league has become ridiculously soft and feminine.
He added that this was “Not a shocking result” on social media.
Retired NFL superstar J.J. Watt also took to X to accuse the league of stealing from its players.
“I will say it again… This is STEALING money from guys,” Watt wrote on X. “These absurd fines for routine football plays have got to stop.
“Fines for intentfully malicious plays? Absolutely. Taking $21,694 from a guy for this?! What are we doing.
“This is out of control.”
Other comments on social media echoed the stunned disgust of Walsh and Watt.
One prominent NFL social media content creator blasted the league as “A JOKE.”
“Playing football is no longer permitted in the NFL,” one upset X user said under Shaffer’s viral post.
The Ravens, perhaps playing inspired football over the dubious fine levied on Ricard, stomped the Seattle Seahawks, a quality team, 37-3 on Sunday afternoon.