Steelers and Ravens have few things in common other than a strong desire to hit each other very hard, and not have to pay out of pocket to do so. These can be conflicting desires in a league that glorifies AFC North smashmouth football, yet doles out fines to show they're concerned about player safety. So Ray Lewis is out $20,000 for concussing Hines Ward, and Ryan Clark owes $40,000 for what looked like a pretty clean hit on Ed Dickson.
Lewis and Clark (Heh. Buddy comedy in their future?) are displeased. Lewis takes the "just playing football" defense:
"I heard from the league, and they fined me whatever they were going to fine me, but I'll definitely call in [appeal]," Lewis said today. "I think the thing is, you definitely respect them trying to protect players' safety, but at the same time, it won't change the way I play in this league, no matter what the fine is. You just can't stop playing defense the way this defense has always played. If the receiver has the ball, it's your job to disengage him from the ball.
Clark, by contrast, goes personal on the Commish:
"Somebody else needs to step in ... not that I respected Roger before this ... but this is ridiculous," Clark said. "I'm not going to sit across from [the Commissioner] unless they handcuff me. which is probably the next step anyway."
I actually think the league has created a beneficial sort of Catch-22. The fines are large enough to make it seem like they're concerned for their players, but small enough to avoid discouraging those kind of hits in the future. They can simultaneously endorse gritty, hard-hitting football as the platonic ideal, and condemn it when it's actually realized. It's brilliant.