The CFL's fines are generally a good idea: they tend to be one of the league's primary methods of improving player safety, a critical issue for this league and one it's been working on with other changes (even if the safety changes considered aren't always made). We've seen fines often handed out in the past to deter dangerous play, including cut blocks and helmet-to-helmet hits, and the four fines the league announced Wednesday all were about safety in one form or another: Edmonton's Cliff Louis was fined for a cut block (one Hamilton coach/GM Kent Austin vociferously complained about in the wake of Sunday's loss), Calgary's Juwan Simpson was fined for a dangerous tackle against Saskatchewan Friday, and the Stampeders' Jon Gott and the Roughriders' Jermaine McElveen were both fined for their roles in an after-the-whistle fight during that game. There's nothing to complain about with those decisions, but it's interesting that one of the week's most devastating hits and one with the most major impact went unpunished. That would be Toronto defensive back Janzen Jackson's helmet-to-helmet contact on B.C. receiver Shawn Gore Thursday:
That hit has given Gore a concussion that will likely keep him out of this week's game (although he was able to do a sports anchor segment on CTV B.C. this weekend) thanks to the Lions following the appropriate return-to-play protocols (a more cautious approach than some we've seen). The result of it's certainly concerning, and that demonstrates the dangers of leading with the helmet. Of course, helmet-first contact hasn't yet been outlawed in the CFL even to the extent it will be in the NFL this year, but the league has still generally been willing to step in when a tackler demonstrates a particularly dangerous helmet-to-helmet hit. Jackson's would appear to qualify there: there's no need for him to go so high on Gore, and there's no need for him to make contact with his helmet. That led to criticism of the hit from Lions head coach Mike Benevides and other members of the team, and it's also led to the decision not to fine him being blasted by some CFL fans:
Really disappointed to hear no action on Janzen Jackson for the head shot on Shawn Gore @CFL He lead with his helmet, which was the problem.
— marc poirier (@marc_poirier) July 11, 2013
Benie on hit Shawn Gore took: "It's the type of hit we;'re trying to get out of the game." — Matt Baker (@BakesTakes84) July 8, 2013
The decision to not fine Jackson has been made, but it would be interesting to see the league at least release why it made that move. Is there something in the Jackson play that differentiates it from a helmet-to-helmet shot that did result in a fine, such as this August 2012 one from the Alouettes' Rod Davis on Winnipeg's Alex Brink?
Perhaps there was something that stood out more in the Davis play in the league's eyes (beyond it being on a quarterback rather than a receiver), but it's hard to notice anything substantially different from here. If the CFL has good reasons for not fining Jackson, they should make them plain so everyone knows what is and isn't acceptable. Otherwise, the league's fines won't be nearly as much of a deterrent as they should be.