The fines that the NFL normally hands out for head shots and unnecessary roughness penalties are usually a joke. Before Sunday, it wasn’t uncommon for a player to be fined anywhere from $5,000 to $15,000 for an illegal or dangerous hit during a game. Take into account the fact that most of these guys make millions, and you get a vision of a player laughing sarcastically while writing a check. That’s assuming the team even makes the player pay it.
While it may come as a shock to some, the NFL got serious about punishing players for head shots on Monday. Pittsburgh’s James Harrison was fined $75,000 for his hit on the Browns’ Mohamed Massaquoi, Atlanta’s Dunta Robinson was fined $50,000 for his hit on DeSean Jackson, and New England’s Brandon Meriweather was fined $50,000 for a brutal helmet-to-helmet shot on Baltimore’s Todd Heap.
Heap was able to return to the game after Meriweather cracked him, but Massaquoi was forced to leave with a concussion as were both Robinson and Jackson after their collision. But how much of a hole will the fines burn in the players’ pockets? For Meriweather and Harrison, a pretty significant one.
Robinson has a base salary of $5 million, so the $50,000 fine he was given represents only a small portion of his salary. However, the fines to Meriweather and Harrison make up more than a full game check. Granted, Harrison has a huge extension waiting to kick in, but the sum of the fines is a step in the right direction for the league.