Greg Townsend, suspended by NFL commissioner Pete Rozelle, missed Sunday's Miami game and was fined one sixteenth of his salary ($7,812) for—among other acts of flagrant violence—stomping on the helmetless head of David Lutz, the Chiefs' offensive tackle, on Oct. 5.
Here's what players are saying about Townsend:
•Reggie Williams, Bengals linebacker: "He has put a very large bull's-eye on his back—a flashing neon bull's-eye.... Stomping on a player's head when he doesn't have his helmet on is the height of cheap shots."
•Kellen Winslow, Chargers tight end: "He broke [the code] a long time ago, because he did it to me before. That's Greg's style of play. I've been kicked; I've been kneed by Greg. Blatant. But it's never been called. I have no sympathy for his plight whatsoever. Just because you're playing this game for a living doesn't mean you throw out the laws of civilization."
•Rickey Jackson, Saints outside linebacker: "He played beyond the players' morals...what they take inside themselves. He should be made to write an apology letter [to Lutz]."
The Townsend incident is proof that the NFL's fine and suspension system for violence must be overhauled. Several players surveyed believe that the penalties are too lenient. Some went so far as to call for more suspensions.
"The only thing that makes a player stop and think is a suspension," says Kansas City safety Deron Cherry. "What's a fine?"
Doug Allen, assistant executive director of the NFL Players Association, says, "We believe the fines are too high already." However, Jack Donlan, the director of the NFL Management Council, says he will try to change the structure of the fine system—based on a percentage of a player's salary—in upcoming collective bargaining negotiations.
The Townsend incident has also accentuated an even more important issue: Rozelle's lack of action in wiping out violence as well as his inconsistency in imposing fines. The best example: There were several kicks to the head in the massive melee in the Cards-Bears exhibition game, and four Cards were fined a total of $8,800. But there were no suspensions. Rozelle should suspend any player for kicking, whether the helmet is on or off.
Says John Robinson, the Rams coach: "The league must prevent a climate of violence from developing. Like on the 11 o'clock news. The clip of a hockey game is the goals and the fights. If the NFL allows this game to be just touchdowns and fights, it's in deep trouble."