The NFL has admitted that it erred by allowing photos of illegal hits from this past weekend's games to be sold to the public on NFL.com.
Pictures of the controversial James Harrison hit on Browns WR Mohamed Massaquoi was available for purchase on the league's web site, as was an image of Brandon Meriweather's hit on Ravens TE Todd Heap. Both shots were considered extremely dangerous and against NFL rules, which resulted in five-figure fines for both Harrison and Merriweather.
The fact that they were available for sale on a league web site ignited a controversy, with many pointing out the hypocrisy of the NFL condemning the violent tackles but then attempting to profit from them.
"We regret the mistake," said NFL spokesman in a Twitter message Wednesday. "Those photos will be removed ASAP & we will ensure no photos of illegal plays r available again."
McCarthy indicated that an outside vendor used an automated process to post photos for sale, but noted these images never should have been made available.
The way we see it
It is understandable that a firestorm broke out regarding the sale of pictures of controversial hits that resulted in major fines.
Given that the NFL is aware that they are in a partnership with an outside company to sell the pictures in the NFL Photo Store, it should have been proactive in making sure that photos of the violent hits never made it to market.
That said, the league quickly admitted its mistake and worked with the company to make sure they were taken off sale quickly. While they were still available for sale at 9 a.m. CT Wednesday, a subsequent check by PFW of the NFL Photo Store a few minutes later showed that they had been removed.