Erin Henderson's bright idea: Make fines a percentage of salaries

Erin Henderson isn’t a multimillionaire. He’d like the NFL not to fine him as if he were.

Henderson, a Vikings linebacker, says that since he’s paid in accordance with his status as a player who entered the league as an undrafted free agent three years ago, he should be fined that way, too.

Henderson picked up a Tim Tebow fumble and ran 35 yards for a touchdown in Thursday night’s preseason game, and after he crossed the goal line he threw the ball into the stands in jubilation. And then, he told Chip Scoggins of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, “I found after that it’s illegal and I’m probably going to get fined.”

Indeed, the NFL typically fines players for tossing the ball into the stands. Henderson would like to put in a request that the NFL not fine him too much.

“I hope they don’t tax me too bad,” Henderson said. “I’m an undrafted free agent. I don’t really have that much money.”

And then Henderson made an interesting suggestion about how the league should structure its fines.

“I’m not on Jared Allen’s paycheck,” Henderson said, naming a teammate who makes more than 10 times as much money as he does. “I think they should start fining by salary.”

Henderson’s idea makes a lot of sense, and it gets to a point we touched on when we noted that Lions defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh was fined a relative pittance, $7,500, just a month after signing a contract guaranteeing him $40 million.

A player who makes $500,000 a year and a player who makes $15 million a year aren’t affected in the same way by a $5,000 fine. It would make more sense to fine players, say, 1 percent of their salaries for throwing the ball into the stands than to fine every player the same amount of money even if that amount of money won’t affect them in the same way.

Actually, it would make sense not to fine players at all for throwing the ball into the stands — that’s a harmless celebration that gives a fan a great souvenir. But for serious offenses like the hit that got Suh fined, it would make more sense to base the amount of the fine on the financial impact it would have on the player.

Henderson should give Roger Goodell a call and pass along his idea.

64 responses to “Erin Henderson's bright idea: Make fines a percentage of salaries

  1. How about something called personal responsibility. Know the rules and don’t break them unless you want to pay the fine.

  2. Won’t happen. The union wont allow because to many of the players wouldn’t be able to tell if too much was taking out or not. Can you imagine Antonio Cromartie trying to figure out 1% of his salary?

  3. Zaggs says: “Won’t happen. The union wont allow because to many of the players wouldn’t be able to tell if too much was taking out or not. Can you imagine Antonio Cromartie trying to figure out 1% of his salary?”
    I was prepared to be outraged at this comment until I realized that the [humor] tag was in effect. Well done!
    Seriously — let’s get this implemented!

  4. football fans are not protected the way baseball fans are. The football is big and heavy and can seriously injure a child. Plus they are big and bulky so it is hard for refs to have a zillion of them onhand for players to toss into the stands everytime they feel “jubulant.”
    So a fine seems necessary. But not a percentage, more like a small fixed amount, like $250 or $500.
    For personal conduct and injurous play, percentage of salary makes more sense.
    “I just injured the QB, coach. How much will it cost me?”
    “Suh injured 2 of them and was fined $25,000. Go out and injure another, they are 2 for $25,000.”

  5. I agree. Particularly for the unnessary roughness, personal foul type ones.
    Ndamukong Suh fine was not enough to send a message. He should have a fine for what he did that makes him go….holy crap, that cost me some real dough, I better think twice about doing it.
    For the Ochocinco style fine such as the one Erin Henderson will get keep it at a flat rate of around 1-2% of the game check of the league min.

  6. I think fines based on a percentage of salary is unfair, in the sense that the same act is punished more or less severely based on who the perpetrator is. I also think its a great idea. Tax rates are based on how much money you make, too, and while that isn’t really fair to individual taxpayers either, its obviously the most fair thing for the most people.
    Hey, sometimes life ain’t fair. In a just world it is less fair to people the richer they are. Just saying….

  7. I think its a good idea and it should happen. But they’ll need a minimum standard. Each fine should have a floor (i.e. $500 minimum for throwing the ball in the stand for $7,500 for horse collar) and an escalator (i.e. 1% for ball in stands 5% for horse collar).
    It likely should also be restricted to the base amount of salary the player is to earn in the season.
    So for Erin Henderson throwing the ball in the stand, it would be the greater or 1% of is annual dues or $500.
    As for people not thinking those that make the most money shouldn’t be fined the most – those are the ones you need acting as the best citizens for the league – as they are the biggest role models. So when a big name like Suh does something stupid he should be fined more as more people and fans are paying attention to him than the Erin Henderson’s of the league. Its the 80-20 principle at its finest, get the big boys in line, the rest will follow.

  8. Why stop there? Make the big salary guys pay $47 for a Big Mac, and $350 to park on the street while they go in to get it. They can afford it.

  9. What I think is funny, is that Chad Ochocinco gets fined $25,000 for tweeting during a game and Suh gets fined $7,500 for almost injuring a guy. That makes no since to me. To me what Suh did deserves a huge fine, other wise he will turn into the next Haynesworth and step on some ones face.

  10. Bad idea actually, because under that format all any team has to do is sign some slappy off the street have him go headhunting and have a next to zero fine. I’m sure this wouldn’t be widespread but I still remember when Buddy Ryan’s defense had bounties out on players.

  11. 1 percent is ridiculous for throwing a ball in the stands. Maybe 1 percent for something more serious.
    This is a good idea. I’ve always thought it unfair to fine players the same given the wildly different salaries in pro sports.

  12. How about acting like Barry Sanders…Y’aknow, like you’ve been there before?
    When I’m at a game with 2 beers and 3 hot dogs, the LAST thing I need is a football flying by my head.
    Although, he does make a good point. In that guys like Chad Johnsocinco don’t care about a $10,000 fine.

  13. Horrible idea. The amount of the fine should reflect the infraction.
    Also the logic is flawed in that players with formerly huge contracts but now on smaller deals (like a Ladanian Tomlinson or Jason Taylor) has in theory boatloads of cash but would be fined peanuts.

  14. That is a great idea. The super rich players have no reason to be deterred by the current system, and if the percentage were set so that a guy like Hendersons percentage about matches what the fine is anyway then it still is a punishment for everyone.
    Also, the higher paid players are higher profile players and the NFL has more of an incentive themselves to keep those players from making the league look bad.

  15. I don’t buy it that he didn’t know about the fine. That has been in existance, for how long? Like forever. However, I do think he might be on to something with the percentage thing.

  16. Good-looking hookers make more than ones that look like Evander Holyfield. And they’re all “jubilant” when you hand them cash. But they all wind up paying RACK RATE for their implants.
    I’m just sayin…..

  17. I don’t like the idea……I’d miss the ochocinco nonsense that is commonplace because the fines mean nothing to him.
    I think if you toss a ball into the stands for a fan, you should have to pay $750 or less. This way the league looks as though it is frowned upon to cover themselves legally (in case someone gets hit in the face) and the big-name players can still make a football fans day by handing them an NFL ball.

  18. A thrown football can injure a child or an adult. I’ve seen Packer players HAND a ball to a young fan after a TD.
    If fines are a percentage of salary, hot dog and thug players will negotiate a contract with a lot of incentives and a relatively small salary.
    They may not be able to read, but they know how to get around rules.

  19. Tell you what. Let me make the $500,000 salary, and I’ll be happy to cover the fine. I’m sure I could live on the ‘pittance’ that’s left over in my bank account after shelling out the 5 g’s.

  20. Oh come on KD. If you drop the beer and dogs and catch the football, selling it on eBay will at least cover the cost of the food. Oh wait…You said beers. Nevermind…LOL

  21. 1% of a player’s salary for tossing a football into the stands? If a guy is making $500,000, then that’s a $5,000 fine for throwing a $200 football into the stands.
    That’s dumb. Fine the guy $200. It’s a great souvenir for some fan who paid $200 to see the game live.
    Meanwhile, Suh gets $7,500 for attempting to separate Jake Delhome’s head from his body so he can, presumably, throw Jake’s head into the stands.

  22. KD, did you ever consider that an undrafted free agent linebacker probably hasn’t been there before?
    Or that you’re insane if you’d rather not have a game-used football come your way because you’re busy eating a dry, $10 hot dog?

  23. What is with the Viking player’s first names? Erin, Percy, Sidney, or Bernard, it sounds like gay knitting club members but I digress, if the guy is so stupid he didn’t realize the rule, how can he complain after the fact? (must be taking lessons from the CryQueen fan base, they are experts at complaining)
    Now I realize he looks around the locker room and he sees players that have violated the substance abuse policy without consequences, he sees other players who have committed felonies without any prosecution from the local DA and he asks himself, “Why me?”
    He must feel persecuted, being the only Viking who actually responsible for his behavior. I suggest he take it to the state judge, it worked so well for the William’s sisters.

  24. This is a horrible idea. You get a fine for committing the crime. An illegal hit is an illegal hit whether henderson does it or Jared allen does it. You shouldn’t penalize the guy more just because he makes more.
    When the fine is for something like tweeting then you have more of an argument. Because a tweet from Ocho Cinco has a greater ability to tarnish the reputation of the NFL compared to a tweet for Erin Henderson.

  25. they already do this in a way. going back to last year with the 250,000 dollar fine on bud adams for flipping the bird because he can afford it.
    i disagree with the policy though in general. giving someone that large of a fine because he can afford it and giving 5000 to another guy because he can’t is way too democrat-like of a policy. stick it to the rich because they can afford it. crocks

  26. “Actually, it would make sense not to fine players at all for throwing the ball into the stands — that’s a harmless celebration that gives a fan a great souvenir. ” Sorry, that’s just plain stupid. So where does it stop? Can throw a football up in the stands, but can’t throw a jockstrap, shoulder pads? Or how about can only throw it up after a touchdown? How about after an interception, just take it over and heave it? Just plain stupid and not thought out comment. Can’t have it both ways so its easiest to just not have it at all. Period, no black or white, just can’t do it. NFL has the rules for a reason that’s it, don’t want knuckleheads like MDS writing the rules or the inmates run the asylum.

  27. Used to be a player only had to pay the cost of the ball if he threw it into the stands or wanted to keep it after a big play.
    When did it become a fine?

  28. Florio,
    Why not find out what the reason for fining someone for throwing the ball in the stands. I heard years ago that it was to prevent the fans from fighting over the ball. Years ago I also heard it was 500. So it isn’t that crazy for even a rookie undrafted free agent.

  29. I can see a fine for the price of a NFL Ball and maybe like $500.00 NFL Ball = About $600.00?
    Hell thats fair enough and c’mon its about the fans getting in on some action and a good gift from a player, noting wrong with that!
    Hell people pay enough to go to games and feed the pockets of the NFL. Greed kills and its greed thats gonna kill the NFL watch what happends next yearwith a lockout.
    G R E E D !

  30. robert ethen says: “Why stop there? Make the big salary guys pay $47 for a Big Mac, and $350 to park on the street while they go in to get it. They can afford it.”
    Seriously? This is your actual opinion on this?
    The point of the fine isn’t to siphon revenue off to League charities; the point of the fine is to deter bad behavior. It’s done via financial means because that’s the only way to get most players’ attention. Ideally, an on-field penalty would be sufficient — “I did something wrong, and it hurt my team’s chances to win; I’d better not do it again” — but it generally isn’t. Things happen in the heat of the moment, and if the coaching staff does not have sufficient control over the players (or tacitly approves of bad behavior when the reward outweighs the risk), on-field consequences are forgotten as soon as the clock hits “0:00.”
    A monetary punishment makes a much longer lasting impression, as long as it is of a sufficient amount. And that’s the point. A guy making $200k a year is going to remember a $5k debit; a guy making $2m or more can just blow it off.

  31. clay matthews jr threw the ball into the stands last year at the dome after his td from a fumble. if you’re going to call erin henderson a d-bad or classless player, packer fans, you have to call matthews one too.
    was matthews ever fined for that?

  32. I can remember a time when the player was fined the cost of the ball if he threw it into the stands…..
    That being said, if you make 500K a year, 5K is really not all that much money. I’d almost guarantee that most if not all that post here dont make half that much money and would be the happy recipient of 5K. It really isn’t a bad idea to fine a percentage, but lets take it a step further…..make it a percentage of their TOTAL contract, including any guaranteed money. I guarantee there will be far fewer “mistakes” being made because someone like Favre, Manning, Bradford and such would be paying MILLIONS if they screw up…….

  33. A great idea. Mangini is already on this track: remember the $1500 fine for failing to pay for a bottle of water in the hotel minibar? That’s just a $2 price tag scaled up to an NFL salary, so the player feels it. Everyone thought Mangini was nuts, but I thought the fine was brilliant. It’s the only thing I’ve ever seen him do that I agree with.

  34. Hmm. Brings to mind a mental picture of every player wearing a wrist cheatsheet, showing which action will earn which penalty fee, based on which salary.
    As the player is scooting over to the goalpost, or to the opposing bench, or to an official, or to another player, etc., to do something forbidden, they check the cheatsheet to see if they can afford that particular penalty. And better check the column that mentions the surcharge for not knowing what’s forgidden in the first place.

  35. The percentage fine is a good idea that is LONG overdue.
    It would almost certainly cause a firestorm. Probably make some noise in the CBA negotiations. And it would probably end up having to be negotiated rather than imposed by fiat. But whatever it takes, it needs to be done.
    It also needs to be done sensibly and fairly. There probably should be an increasing scale. Say an extra 2-5% per offense. There should be some minimums on particularly egregious fouls. And there should be some maximums even if you repeat minor crap like using a prop in a TD celebration. (Why the heck is that even a penalty in the first place?)
    I’d also base off weekly game check, not total salary for the year. Some players may only play four weeks in the year and then get cut. So say for an egregious foul like ripping a QB’s head off in a blatant fashion, 50% of a regular-season game check. If it’s preseason, the next, if it’s post season, the previous, otherwise this week’s check.
    Same idea for minor crap like throwing the ball, but make it only (say) 5% of this/next/last week’s check.

  36. And another thing – some commenting intimate that the action is always harmless. The balls are never lightly tossed into the stands, they’re thrown strongly by athletes in the midst of excited celebration – if you were sitting in the stands and a ball like that hit you in the face and broke your glasses, or spilled hot coffee on your wife, or hit your baby in the head, I doubt you’d be satisfied with a $200 palliative. Might be more likely to earn yourself and your team a lawsuit these days. Just better not to do it.
    That being said, though, that kind of celebration must feel great!

  37. Tebow was going to throw the ball into the stands after the touchdown he scored in his first game, but luckily for him he missed.

  38. Hit a child in the stands???? – Who’s ever seen a child in the stands at an NFL game? – You can probably count the number of children in the stands of any NFL game on the fingers of one hand.

  39. The fines are a joke as it is. Isn’t the purpose of the fine supposed to be a deterrent? Make the fines huge for intentional stuff (minimum 1 game check huge…in addition to anything they lose due to a suspension) The little stuff like tossing a football or end zone celebrations can be the little stuff but have a minimum standard. The players laugh at the fines so the deterrence value needs to be raised.

  40. Allied Biscuit says:
    September 3, 2010 5:48 PM
    clay matthews jr threw the ball into the stands last year at the dome after his td from a fumble. if you’re going to call erin henderson a d-bad or classless player, packer fans, you have to call matthews one too.
    was matthews ever fined for that?
    ==================================
    WTF are you talking about? No one said he’s a d-bad(sic) or classless player for throwing the ball to a fan.
    Or are you just trying to make something out of nothing?

  41. Another stupid vikling claiming not to know what the rules are.
    This is the same substance abusing vikling suspended for using steroids last season.
    It would be best is the rulebreaking viklings just paid their fines, served their suspensions and shut up.

  42. Henderson DOES have a point. I’d bet that Ochocinco wouldnt be making any in-game Tweets if his fine actually put a dent in his salary.

  43. Baseball allows broken bats to go flying into the stands and they cover themselves with the fine print on a ticket stub. This guy can’t throw a leather ball 20 yards into the stadium because it might take someone’s head off? Give me a break. After Andy Roddick got his ass handed to him in the US Open, he was tossing rackets into the stands, and the fans were loving it. This a stupid rule.

  44. This is sort of like when rich douches endanger the public by buzzing around going 90mph in their Beemers and then laugh at the $200 ticket while some poor ass in podunk small town USA gets a $200 ticket for the same infraction and can’t make his rent payment since the $200 is more than rent.

  45. lol, they talked to Erin’s older brother on the field and he mentioned the fine his little brother would get.
    So throwing a football is against the rules? What about tossing it to a fan or handing it to someone? Most of the Vikings players give the football to fans after TD’s. Do they just pay a small fine?
    As for injury. I rather get his by a football than a line drive hard baseball to the head.

  46. Just for the record. If anyone read everything above it’s obvious Bob Nelson and Jimmy are haters and write stuff that is just beyond pathetic.

  47. I hate the ViQueens but I really like Mr. Henderson.
    Here’s hoping to a great season for him aside from the two weeks hr plays the Bears.

  48. There are two levels to this. First of all, sorry Erin (which, I believe, I have been hearing pronounced “AHR-in”, sort of like “ON-ri” Crockett), but the fine for tossing the ball should probably just stay the same. The fine is in place to pay for possible consequences of the action. While we can all say we would love to have the ball, that doesn’t change the fact that there are entirely too many people who will take any excuse to sue someone. Pay the fine.
    But for the on-field stuff, the behavior that could cause harm to other players…. Definitely. In Europe, they are fining speeders based on net worth, so the rich nitwits who don’t care about the ticket will think twice. The same needs to be done with reckless behavior between the lines.
    Now, I don’t care who it is, any action that is determined to be “intent to harm” should be $100,000 right off the top. Then you add on 10% of the guaranteed money in the player’s contract, with an additional 5% for each following infraction.
    I know, I know, what is intent to harm? This will take all the hard hits out of the game. Not so. Drilling a WR across the middle is part of the game, and the hard hit has a football-related purpose, to prevent the completion or stop the recievers forward progress. The same with drilling the QB. But to spear a player who is on the ground has no football-related purpose other than to cause injury. The same with Suh’s habit (and if you saw him in college, you know it is a habit) of wrapping and stopping a player, and then lifting them off the ground and slamming them back down. Intent to harm. Period. 5 of these type fines and he will be using part of his next contract to pay them off. Now THAT is a deterrent.
    And maybe this will keep the “guaranteed money” crap down a bit. While I sympathize with these guys that their career can end any day, really…. If you can’t live the rest of your life on $5 mil, you need to get a clue. Really, what the hell is Suh doing with that $40 mil? That’s the equivalent of 40 years worth of work, 40 hours/wk at $20/hr… For 25 people. And we all live our lives and raise our families on it.
    ps… Jimmy and Bob, GET A LIFE!!! Bob, how about you start with seeing to it that Packers serve the prison sentences they deserve. And Jimmy… Jimmy, Jimmy, Jimmy. Atari Bigby? Jolly? Zombo and Poppinga and Pepra?? And let’s not forget the tennis team, Mason and Brady and Evan and Jordy. And Jermichael?? Did mommy love Jermaine and daddy love Michael??? You guys brought in Cyril Obiozor. Be honest, do you intentionally post things that you know are going to be shot back at you, or are you just that stupid?

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