Among the people who don't think Washington Redskins rookie receiver Niles Paul should have been fined $20,000 for a helmet-to-helmet hit on St. Louis Rams punt returner Austin Pettis: Niles Paul, not surprisingly, and Austin Pettis.
The Rams receiver (and fellow rookie) didn't call fair catch while returning a Redskins punt in Sunday's game and got crushed by Paul, almost simultaneous to when he caught the ball. Paul was in a full sprint at the time and replays showed he tried to avoid laying a devastating hit on Pettis, but it appeared he still made some helmet-to-helmet contact.
Paul was upset by the fine and tweeted about it:
Pettis saw Paul's comment and responded with three of his own (the bottom one was sent first):
Paul later apologized for giving Pettis the headache.
Each guy is right: Pettis should have called for the fair catch (he did the same thing earlier in the game and got popped just as hard) and Paul should have been flagged, but not fined. His hit wasn't the result of malicious intent or irresponsible tackling.
The bigger issue is that the NFL is giving a rookie making $375,000 a fine of $20,000. That's nearly 5 percent of Paul's annual salary! If you make $60,000 per year, that's the same as getting a fine of $3,000. People fret when James Harrison has to pay $100,000 in total fines for all his illegal hits but that total was less than 2 percent of his salary for 2010.
Paul should take Pettis' advice and appeal. And Pettis should take his own advice and wave that hand in the air on punt returns.
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