A few weeks ago, there was a small uproar from several NFL players who called New Orleans Saints strong safety Roman Harper a “dirty” player.
Harper was tagged as such by receiver Nate Washington of the Tennessee Titans after the Saints 22-17 victory over the Titans.
The particular play that seemed to spark the uproar was a 54-yard catch and run by Titans wide receiver Damian Williams.
He was the last thing standing between Williams and the end zone and as Harper caught up to the streaking receiver, Williams put on the brakes, causing Harper to overrun him a bit.
He reached out and did the only thing he could possibly do to stop Williams from scoring – he grabbed Williams facemask.
It wasn’t as if that was his intent, it was simply the only thing he could do as he overran Williams. Last time I checked, the object of playing defense was to try and NOT let the other team score.
As Harper left the scene of the penalty, he was rushed upon by Nate Washington who seemed to want to bring this to blows. To his credit, Harper didn’t engage Washington. So this incident was tough – but dirty?
Harper was fined for that play as well as an earlier hit on Titans’ quarterback Matt Hasselbeck.
The face mask was an egregious penalty – it did look pretty bad on television. But again, it was that or let him score, so the choice was obvious.
But charges of dirty play have followed the Pro Bowler for a while.
He gave receiver Steve Smith of the Carolina Panthers a “love tap” in the end zone during the Saints’ matchup against them in Carolina, after Smith caught a touchdown pass.