It’s reconciliation week in the NFL.
In Tennessee, Cortland Finnegan wants to apologize to Andre Johnson after their fight. When the Browns travel to Cincinnati Sunday, rookie safety T.J. Ward hopes to speak with Bengals receiver Jordan Shipley, the man he knocked out cold with a vicious hit to the head in October.
“If I get the opportunity, I might just tell him it wasn’t my intent to hurt him or do anything like that, I was just playing the game,” Ward told Mary Kay Cabot of the Cleveland Plain-Dealer . “I hope he understands that. If not, I tried.”
Ward doesn’t believe it was a dirty hit, but admits he didn’t know the rules back then. Ward’s hit was held up as an example by the league of what not to do.
“I just thought it was leading with your helmet that you’d get a penalty for, but I guess it’s just striking a defenseless receiver to the helmet,” Ward said. “I did hit him with my shoulder pad, it wasn’t helmet-to-helmet contact, but at the same time it was a blow to the head.”
That quote is exactly why the NFL started to emphasize punishing players after helmet-to-helmet hits. Ward realizes the timing of his blow — just before the issue blew up nationally — may have saved him some money. Ward was fined $15,000 by the league.
“I think I kind of started it all,” Ward said. “Compared to the $50,000 and $25,000 guys are getting, I guess it’s peanuts. I don’t think I could take that big of a fine.”