Cassius Marsh has spent one week with the Bears, and it’s been the wildest week ever.
A practice squad add in the middle of the week before Chicago’s Week 9 game against Pittsburgh, Marsh made his debut days later on Monday Night Football. And his debut featured splash plays and a state line including 5 total tackles, 1 sack, and 1 QB Hit. But Marsh’s night at the office also had a controversial penalty and a “hip check” from an official that the NFL refuses to believe took place (despite video evidence).
In the days that have since followed, the league has openly defended its calls. But this seems excessive:
The NFL not only stands behind Monday night’s controversial taunting call against #Bears LB Cassius Marsh — the league informed Marsh on Friday he's being $5,972 for unsportsmanlike conduct, per sources.
— Tom Pelissero (@TomPelissero) November 13, 2021
“This is outrageous, it’s unfair.” -Anakin Skywalker -Cassius Marsh (probably)
Only the NFL would double down in such a manner.
Don’t get me wrong. I understand taunting has been a point of emphasis this season. And I believe in good sportsmanship. Moreover, I know that, when the NFL tries to implement new rules or drive home particular rule changes, the tendency is for officials to go above and beyond to drive it home. But Marsh doing his normal karate-kick celebration, taking a handful of steps in the direction of the Steelers bench, and mean-mugging the sideline of a team that cut him earlier in the season being enough for a drive-changing flag in a game ultimately decided by two points is unfathomable. At least, it should be unfathomable. This is the NFL, after all. So, perhaps, I should know better.
In the end, the NFL is drawing a line in the turf with (1) its ruling of this being a penalty, (2) by sticking with its call and backing of Referee Tony Corrente, and (3) fining Marsh for his actions. If the league keeps this same energy moving forward, then I’ll eventually let this roll off my back. It’s just that I don’t believe a league that has never operated with any consistency when it comes to enforcing rules will do so.