Outrageously bad roughing passer call on Vikings defender also draws $20,000 fine

Yahoo Sports
NFL players have expressed frustration at a rise in penalty calls this preseason. (AP)
NFL players have expressed frustration at a rise in penalty calls this preseason. (AP)

The thing about the roughing-the-passer penalty on Minnesota Vikings linebacker Antwione Williams is it was called in the moment. An official can miss something, make a bad call. The game goes fast.

So, then, how do you explain that terrible call also getting a $20,000 fine after the NFL had a couple days to review it?

Williams complained on Twitter about being fined, and then NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport confirmed Williams was fined $20,054. 


Let’s forget for a moment that taking $20,000 out of an employee’s check wouldn’t happen in any other reputable profession. It was a penalty that sums up every football fan’s frustration with how the game is being called.

A terrible call leads to a fine

What Williams did wrong was put his body weight on the quarterback. That became an issue after Vikings linebacker Anthony Barr broke Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers’ collarbone last season.

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Here’s the hit in question. Let’s be real: It’s a terrible call.


While it’s noble of the NFL to try to improve player safety, it can get out of control sometimes. There have been many complaints about the new helmet rule. The reaction to Williams’ penalty was practically unanimous: It was terrible. You can ask 100 football fans, executives, players, coaches, and they’ll all say that’s a normal football play.

But the NFL decided that was worth stealing $20,000 from a young player, for a hit that looked like it was straight out of a textbook, was totally OK.

Huge fine for a young player

Williams, if he makes the team, will have a base salary of $555,000. Williams wasn’t on an NFL team last season; he has 14 total games, all with the Detroit Lions in 2016. Yet the NFL has no problem taking $20,000 from him.

The NFL got rid of its catch rule, and instead replaced it with outrage over overzealous officials handing out penalties for seemingly every hit. The Williams penalty was the prime example of what fans are upset about. Again, a focus on player safety is great. There should be some common sense involved with it though.

It’s understandable how an official could see that play happen in real time and make the wrong call. It happens. It’s something entirely different for the league to look at that play, which was clearly a bad call, and still fine an inexperienced player a small fortune anyway.

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Frank Schwab is a writer for Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at shutdown.corner@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!

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