|Meriweather will be fined $50K, but won’t be banned||10.19.10 at 4:13 pm ET|
Patriots safety Brandon Meriweather has been fined $50,000 for his two helmet-to-helmet hits to Baltimore tight end Todd Heap but won’t be suspended, according to NFL spokesman Greg Aiello.
The news was first reported by ESPN.
Meriweather’s two hits, which took place during Sunday’s win over the Ravens, drew the attention of league executives earlier in the week, with NFL executive vice president of football operations Ray Anderson, telling ESPN Radio the hit was “flagrant” and “egregious.”
“That in our view is something that was fragrant, that was egregious,” said Anderson. “Effective immediately, that’s going to be looked at at a very aggressive level, which would include suspension without pay. … What I would tell you is that if there are flagrant and egregious violations of our current rules, we will be enforcing, effective immediately, discipline at a higher level.”
The first hit came on the goal line on a Baltimore touchdown. Meriweather was not flagged for that one, but was penalized for the second hit, a second-quarter collision where Heap was hit by the New England safety after he was leaping for an errant pass from Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco. The tight end lay on the turf for several minutes before getting up and walking off under his own power. (He soon returned to action.)
Following the second hit, Meriweather was quickly pulled from the game and sat for a series of plays before being re-inserted back into the contest later in the first half. Patriots coach Bill Belichick did not say whether the fact that Meriweather was removed from the game after the second hit on Heap was because of the penalty and how much it might have had to do with personnel or scheme.
Meriweather told WEEI earlier in the week that the hits were just a “split-second decision” to be aggressive.
“I just attacked,” Meriweather said. “I wasn’t trying to hit head-to-head contact or injure anybody or play dirty in any kind of way. It just happened.”
Added Meriweather: ”I don’t want to make a big deal out of it. I was playing aggressive and something happened. I’m trying not to look at it and make it a big deal, like everybody else is doing. … It’s football. You’ve got a lot of good players, where you think one thing, and another thing can happen in a split-second. So, you’ve always got to make a split-second decision, and my split-second decision was to be aggressive and not wait for it.”
Meriweather wasn’t the only player who was hit with a sizable fine. Pittsburgh’s James Harrison was fined $75,000, while Atlanta cornerback Dunta Robinson was also fined $50,000. It appears the trio of big hits will spark a change in the NFL goes about disciplining players — Aiello tweeted Tuesday afternoon, “A communication will go to the clubs, coaches, and players tomorrow about the increased discipline for violations of player safety rules.” In addition, in a letter to all three players who were fined, Anderson strongly hinted that similar actions will draw even harsher punishment.
“Future offenses will result in an escalation of fines up to and including suspension,” wrote Anderson, according to NFL.com.
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