The NFL maintains an on-field code of conduct for players, even if it seems a constant work in progress. (Was that an illegal hit? Depends on which week you are asking.)
The players abide by their own code, which may not regard cheap, injury-inflicting shots as the most egregious offence.
Knock his head off? Acceptable, within reason. Spit on someone? Now, that's crossing the line.Channing Crowder, a Miami Dolphins linebacker, angrily accused Le'Ron McClain, the Baltimore Ravens fullback, of intentional expectoration last Sunday.
Video replays appear to show McClain's head thrusting forward and Crowder reacting as if he had been struck. The NFL reviewed the clip - eagerly no doubt, given the league's eagerness to hand out fines this season- and detected nary a trace of sputum. McClain was absolved.
After the game, Crowder's teammate, Karlos Dansby, ripped McClain as cowardly and hinted at exercising his own rough justice if the league would not impose punishment.
"We'll see [McClain] on the street and we'll have to handle it like men," Dansby said.
Crowder was so upset that, during a profane, post-game rant, he confused historical characters while invoking the names of Stevie Wonder and Anne Frank in arguing that the game officials turned a blind eye toward various shenanigans.
Presumably, after referencing the sightless musician, Crowder confused the young German diarist with Helen Keller, a blind American from the last century. Excusable, when a guy is spitting mad.