If Commissioner Pete Rozelle is trying to warn National Football League players that he won't tolerate flagrantly unsportsmanlike conduct in games, he's succeeded in getting the message across to at least one team: the Washington Redskins.
"I think we all see that he's not going to allow cheap shots, that he wants it cleared up," guard Mark May said after Rozelle suspended Seattle linebacker Michael Jackson one game without pay for a series of violations, including striking a game official.
Rozelle met with Jackson yesterday in New York, and later reaffirmed the suspension. Jackson still has the option of a formal appeal.
This was Rozelle's second ruling in three weeks against violent conduct in games. Earlier, he suspended linebacker Stan Blinka of the New York Jets for a game after Blinka knocked down Green Bay receiver John Jefferson with a forearm. Prior to this season, the NFL had suspended just one player for similar offenses.
Rozelle also fined Detroit's Leonard Thompson $1,000 for an illegal open field tackle of Leon Bright, the New York Giants' punt returner.
Yesterday, the Giants asked the league to review what they considered a "cheap shot" Sunday on rookie wide receiver Floyd Eddings by St. Louis cornerback Jeff Griffin--even though Eddings said he did not think Griffin was out of line. Art McNally, NFL supervisor of officials, is reviewing the situation, in which Eddings suffered bruised ribs when he was hit in the back by Griffin after making a diving catch.
"There's been an emphasis ever since Darryl Stingley got hurt," Redskins Coach Joe Gibbs said. "People who take the cheap shots are being told that's not part of the game, that's not allowed. There is going to continue to be a stronger stand on it. But I don't think it's anything you worry about. The players know that it isn't part of the game. I'm sure they are interested in playing real hard football but not in taking cheap shots.
"I hardly ever see any cheap shots anymore. That's probably why it stands out more. They highlight it on television and everyone sees it."
Linebacker Neal Olkewicz said he wasn't sure if Rozelle's actions would act as a deterrent to future violations.
"You are aware of it, but if you are going to do something that bad, it's because someone has really done something to you and you are so mad, you aren't going to be thinking what will happen to you," he said. "There is no excuse for people taking cheap shots. But there aren't that many out there."