Now that the fine has been handed down, please go here if you're so inclined. This fund, set up and run by Falcons fans, is a symbolic gesture in support of Mike Smith and is set to go toward a charitable foundation, though one has not yet been selected.
Today, the NFL announced that our coach is being fined $15,000. That's twice as much as Albert Haynesworth was fined, bizarrely, for coming to the aid of one DeAngelo Hall. You may remember Hall as the guy who talked himself out of Atlanta despite his talent and the guy who slammed the Falcons throughout the week leading up to the game. The fine is also three times as much as LaRon Landry, whose late hit on Ryan wasn't all that egregious to begin with.
Guess who didn't get a fine? If you said DeAngelo *&@#$ing Hall, you would be correct.
This is absolute garbage. I kind of expected Smith to be fined, and it's clear that as awesome as his player protection skills are, he overstepped his bounds on Sunday. A group of fans are raising money which will go to the charity of Smith's choice and as a gesture for him, which I support. If a charity can benefit, at least something good comes out of this. I know he came in with a shove, but Haynesworth's fine seems excessive to me given that he was trying to bail out a guy who had gotten himself in way over his head. More to the point, it seems excessive because Hall made it out smelling like a loud, contact-avoiding rose.
Watch this again. Hall goes over to the sideline to get Landry out, supposedly, and yet Landry and Matt Ryan take off on their own accord. Your view on what happens next may vary, but Hall supporters would say he's held there against his will by an ever-growing group of Falcons, while those who either do not like Hall or are familiar with his history suspect he's getting into a trash-talking streak with the Falcons. At more than one point, it looks like Smith may have swung at Hall, tried to get his arm free, or tested the tensile strength of his helmet. At another point, it looks like Hall might be gearing up for a swing or trying to get his arm free.
UPDATE: Director of Athletic Performance Jeff Fish fined $2,500, according to Adam Schefter.
My point is, it's not extremely clear what happened on that sideline. A reasonable person could argue that Smith was a villain, Hall was a villain or they both were at fault. Occam's Razor states, roughly, that the simplest explanation is usually the correct one. Thus anyone in the league office assigned to review this fracas and come up with a fair decision probably should have decided on the simplest expanation: DeAngelo Hall should not have been on the sideline stirring up crap as he is wont to do, and Mike Smith should have defused the situation and not contributed to it. That brings down fines for both parties, and whether there's a difference in how much Smith gets and Hall gets or not, at least it recognizes that this kind of incident does not happen in a vacuum.
Instead, the league has chosen to go a route that creates its own Occam's Razor, by making everyone involved but DeAngelo Hall a bad guy. I would have preferred that Haynesworth got little to no fine and that some of that had headed Hall's way, but there's no chance that'll happen now. The only bright spot in this is that Hall is left to wonder why his teammates took so long to come to his rescue, something I doubt the majority of Falcons fans have to think very long and hard about.