In the last several days, the National Football League has handed down some absolutely absurd fines to a few individuals. First was Robert Griffin III’s $10k fine on Tuesday for wearing an unauthorized t-shirt during pregame warmups the night before. Griffin, who has a sponsorship deal with Adidas, was wearing one of his new “Operation Patience” shirts—a play on his rehab and recovery from a torn ACL—prior to the Washington Redskin’s game against the Pittsburgh Steelers, a game in which Griffin didn’t even take the field.
The second fine was levied on Chicago Bears linebacker Jon Bostic who absolutely demolished San Diego Chargers wide receiver Mike Willie. The league has, obviously, been stepping up their efforts to remove the violence from an inherently violent game, but this is an instance where I think they’ve gone a step too far. Bostic was hit with a $21k penalty for a hit that wasn’t seen as illegal by any of the referees on the field who had an up close view. Judge the hit for yourself:
Bostic’s head was lowered, but Willie took the brunt of the hit right in the midsection and shoulder pads.
But rather than digress into a debate about hits in the NFL (because that could go on for ages), let’s take a look at some of the other insanely ridiculous fines that the league has handed out over the last few years. I’m only listing five here, so I obviously won’t hit them all, so help a blogger out and leave some others in the comments.
Antonio Brown Celebrates a Touchdown that Didn’t Happen
Special teams touchdowns are always incredibly exciting to watch, there’s no denying that. Whether it’s a guy breaking 12 tackles or a huge block that springs the returner free or a series of broken ankles, they’re spectacular. The guys that do the catching and running can also probably be classified as the biggest showboats on their respective teams. Enter Antonio Brown. The Pittsburgh Steeler wide out pissed a lot of people off when, after breaking free on a punt return, he spun himself around and waltzed into the end zone backwards. His head coach Mike Tomlin benched him for the remainder of the game, the refs called a 15-yard unsportsmanlike conduct penalty, and the NFL eventually handed down a $10k fine. Best of all though, the touchdown was negated because of a block-in-the-back penalty, so Brown got benched, penalized, and fined for celebrating a touchdown that never happened.
Jay Cutler Taunts Viking’s A.J. Jefferson
L.O.L. Jay Cutler. After catching a lot of flack from fans and the media for being soft—from not going in towards the end of a playoff game because he was hurt (the stationary bike incident) to missing a good deal of time for a concussion—he decided to show the Minnesota Vikings that he was tough. After scrambling out of the pocket and running up-field, Cutler decided not to slide and came into awfully close contact with the Vikings A.J. Jefferson as he ran out of bounds. Tough Guy Cutler then flipped the ball to Jefferson, which drew an unsportsmanlike-conduct penalty and a $10k fine from the league. I’m a fan of any negativity thrown towards the Bears’ QB, but $10k for flipping someone a football seems a bit harsh.
Urlacher and Welker Wear the Wrong Hat
I could just stop here, because this one just takes the cake (but I won’t). During media day prior to the 2007 Super Bowl, Chicago Bears linebacker Briana Urlacher was hit with a $100k (no, I didn’t accidentally hit too many zeros, so yes you did read that right) fine for wearing a hat that promoted a sponsor not authorized by the NFL. Per an ESPN report from back then: “Urlacher was fined for drinking vitaminwater and wearing a vitaminwater hat during the media session in Miami leading to the title game. Gatorade is the NFL’s official drink.” Absolutely ridiculous. Wes Welker was similarly fined for wearing an unauthorized hat, and complained that he had worn the hat all season long and received no warning from anyone that he could be fined for doing so. His hit was only $10k though, presumably because it didn’t happen on the game’s biggest stage.
Ryan Clark Fined for Honoring Sean Taylor
Ryan Clark chose to honor his former friend and teammate Sean Taylor, who was murdered in a robbery in his Florida home, by wearing Taylor’s #21 in his eye black during the 2008 season. The NFL fined Clark $5k for breaking the leagues uniform policy, to which Clark said shove it and continued wearing the customized eye black. There’s following the letter of the law, and then there’s being a stuck up, unsympathetic piece of shit, and the league certainly fit the role of the latter here.
Nate Burleson Punts a Ball and had a Uniform Infraction
This, again, occurred after celebrating a touchdown. Emotions can run high at times like that, so in the heat of the moment the Lions wide receiver decided it would be best to give one lucky Detroit fan a souvenir and punted the football into the stands. He then lifted his jersey to reveal a shirt that had “What up doe?” written on it, which, according to ProFootballTalk, is Detroit slang for, simply, “What’s up?” The NFL decided Burleson’s actions reflected so poorly on the league that they had to fine him $15k to make up for it. What up with that, doe? (Please let me know if I used that right…)
Again, these are just five from the last several years. There are plenty of lists out there with other insane fines, so be sure to leave your favorites in the comments. And I’m sure we’ll be able to add to this as the season goes on.