Richard Sherman's Self Proclaimed Unappealable Fine
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Richard Sherman’s Self Proclaimed Unappealable Fine

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Richard Sherman’s Self Proclaimed Unappealable Fine

Seattle Seahawks all-pro cornerback, Richard Sherman, has never been one to mince his words and is not afraid of putting anybody in the league on blast.1 the only penalty called by the officials on the field was the offside penalty.2 This led to media and fan outrage across social media who believed that Sherman should have been penalized for a late hit.3 During the game even Dean Blandino, the Vice President of NFL officiating, admitted that a penalty flag should have been thrown.4

In the week following the game Sherman was fined $9,000 for his hit on Carpenter.5 After receiving the fine he asserted that he could not “really appeal something that is ‘he said, she said.”’6 The league issued the fine for a hit they claim occurred after the whistle was blown although they admitted that they could not hear the whistle when listening to the replay.7 On the other hand, Sherman remains adamant that there was no such whistle.8

The NFL allows for appeals on all fines the commissioner’s office levies out.9 Once a player appeals a fine their case is randomly assigned to one of two of the league’s appeals officers.10 The appeals officer assigned to the case is responsible for reviewing the play and hearing the arguments of both sides.11 At that point the officer makes a binding decision.12

Sherman’s skepticism of the league’s appeals process is understandable. The NFL has become notorious for legal controversy with Tom Brady and “deflategate” at the forefront.13 However, his skepticism in this case seems to be misguided. The NFL Players Association, which represents the interests of players such as Sherman in all matters, had a heavy hand in appointing the appeals officers.14 This suggests that the appeals officers are impartial third parties who are capable of reviewing the play and hearing Sherman’s argument without bias. Additionally, both appeals officers themselves are former NFL players and have seen the appeals process from both sides of the coin.15

When watching the replay of the play in question a whistle is not audible when Sherman jumps offside but is clearly audible once he hits Carpenter.16 Additionally, other players on the field continued to play after the alleged whistle including Carpenter himself who got hit because he attempted to kick the field goal. This evidence lends credibility to Sherman’s account that the whistle was not initially blown. Since the league fined Sherman for a hit after the whistle, contrary to Sherman’s belief, it seems more likely that an appeals officer would accept his account as true and overturn the fine in the absence of concrete proof that a whistle was blown. Sherman’s skepticism of the league’s appeals process and the league’s integrity in general might have cost him to the tune of $9,000.


  1. Aaron Mansfield, Richard Sherman Calls Out Roger Goodell, Says Commissioner Has ‘Too Much Power’, Complex (Oct. 27, 2016), http://www.complex.com/sports/2016/10/richard-sherman-roger-goodell-power [https://perma.cc/Z2BZ-R8K3]. Given his outspoken nature, it came as no surprise that Sherman found himself front and center in sports headlines across the country last week. At the end of the first half of a game against the Buffalo Bills, Sherman, in an attempt to block a Bills field goal, charged offside and drilled Bills’ kicker Dan Carpenter. Although the NFL has strict rules in place to protect its kickers,[footnote]See Rule 12 Section 2 Article 10, NFL Operations,[footnote]http://operations.nfl.com/the-rules/nfl-video-rulebook/roughing-or-running-into-the-kicker/ [https://perma.cc/C82U-HFEL].

  2. See Sean Wagner-McGough, Richard Sherman: NFL folded to ‘public pressure,’ made my fine ‘unappealable’, CBS Sports (Nov. 11, 2016), http://www.cbssports.com/nfl/news/richard-sherman-nfl-folded-to-public-pressure-made-my-fine-unappealable/ [https://perma.cc/GPU8-DNFC].

  3. See Robert Quinn, Twitter Reacts to Richard Sherman drilling Bills K Dan Carpenter’s legs, USA Today (Nov. 7, 2016), http://billswire.usatoday.com/2016/11/07/twitter-reacts-to-richard-sherman-drilling-bills-k-dan-carpenters-legs/ [https://perma.cc/83GE-ML75].

  4. See id.

  5. See Wagner-McGough, supra note 3.

  6. Id.

  7. Id.

  8. Id.

  9. Fines & Appeals, NFL Operations, http://operations.nfl.com/football-ops/fines-appeals/ [https://perma.cc/5LJB-ZCGS].

  10. Id.

  11. Id.

  12. Id.

  13. See Mike Reiss, Patriots QB Tom Brady has Deflategate appeal denied by 2nd U.S. Circuit Court, ESPN (Jul. 13, 2106), http://www.espn.com/nfl/story/_/id/17045257/new-england-patriots-qb-tom-brady-deflategate-appeal-denied-2nd-us-circuit-court.

  14. NFL Operations, supra note 10.

  15. Id.

  16. Wagner-McGough, supra note 3.

Brandon Cordovi

Brandon Cordovi is a second-year J.D. Candidate at Fordham University School of Law and a staff member of the Fordham Intellectual Property, Media & Entertainment Law Journal. He has experience working in the sport industry for both professional and minor league sport organizations and received his B.S. in sport management and marketing from the University of Delaware.