On a busy day of NFL finances here in the NFC North, the latest news is the NFL's $21,000 fine given to Minnesota Vikings defensive end Jared Allen for his hit on Chicago Bears lineman Lance Louis last Sunday at Soldier Field. The fine was the league's admission that Allen's hit was illegal.
Indeed, Allen's hit came from the blindside as Louis was chasing an interception return and resulted in a season-ending knee injury. The injury has no impact on the NFL discipline, by rule, but it illustrated why the league wrote the rule in the first place -- to prevent players in a "defenseless posture" from being unable to brace for a major collision.
For those interested, one of the definitions of a defenseless opponent is this: "A player who receives a 'blindside' block when the blocker is moving toward or parallel to his own end line and approaches the opponent from behind or from the side."
Among the prohibitions of contact to a player in such a posture is this: "Illegally launching into a defenseless opponent. It is an illegal launch if a player (1) leaves both feet prior to contact to spring forward and upward into his opponent, and (2) uses any part of his helmet (including the top/crown and forehead/”hairline” parts) to initiate forcible contact against any part of his opponent’s body. Note: The provisions of (2) do not prohibit incidental contact by the mask or helmet in the course of a conventional tackle or block on an opponent."
Allen typically speaks with reporters on Thursdays. He said Sunday that he thought the hit was legal and intended no injury. The NFL clearly disagrees, at least on the former claim, and this appears to be a textbook version of the type of hit the league is trying to outlaw from the game.