It should have been a steep fine instead of a suspension without pay for five games.
In a team game, suspensions hurt teams, often critically. And when it's the player who is at fault, not the team, it's the player who should be punished, not the team.
The fine in this case -- a five-game loss of revenue -- ought to have been considerably larger and should not have included loss of playing time.
That might have required a waiver from union leader Gene Upshaw, who heads the NFLPA.
Upshaw, a former lineman and Hall of Famer, understands that suspensions harm teams -- but his problem is that the members of his union strongly favor suspensions over fines.
His role now is to convince the membership that in cases like this, heavy fines are a necessity if suspensions are not.
Fining, in fact, is always the best way of disciplining players in team sports, which is why team owners and their players should commit to few, if any, suspensions and allow the increased the use of fining as the NFL's main disciplinary weapon.
It should be the main weapon as well in two other kinds of cases:
-- Teams that punish their own players, for almost any reason, should fine them instead of ordering them out of next Sunday's game, a tactic that only helps the other side win.
-- College teams should also end the practice of suspending players in disciplinary cases. For UCLA to suspend a starter for a game or two --- for any reason --- is counterproductive to its goal: game success.
College people should be able to think up a better disciplinary tactic than that.
Pass-First Bears Win with Sound Strategy
THE 4-0 CHICAGO BEARS, as led by Lovie Smith and his offensive coordinator, Ron Taylor, are among the few pro clubs now playing the game just right. That is, the Bears like to pass aggressively, down the field, on first down. This is typically a running down elsewhere.
Hence the Bears make more first-down yards than other teams, which creates more run-or-pass uncertainties in the minds of their opponents on second down, and leads to more scores and, therefore, more wins.
In a predictable result of their aggressive passing, the Bears have jumped up to first place in the NFC as, most likely, the best team in football.
That seemed evident Sunday night when they won a 37-6 laugher from previously undefeated Seattle.
As underrated quarterback Rex Grossman threw a pair of touchdown passes, the Bears opened a 20-6 halftime lead, then came out passing in the third quarter as if they were behind.