This year, the fines imposed by the NFL against players who have done things on the field they arguably shouldn’t have done have taken on a bizarre level of specificity.
The specificity comes not on a case-by-case basis, but from the agreement reached by the league and the NFLPA regarding the minimum amounts for various infractions.
For physical contact with an official, for example, the minimum player fine is $26,250 on a first offense. Verbal or non-physical offenses against officials entail a less specific $21,000 fine for a first offense.
For striking, kicking, or kneeing an opponent, the minimum for a first offense is $7,875.
Horse collar, first offense? $15,750 minimum.
Face mask, late hit, low block, chop block, taunting? $7,875 minimum.
Leg whip, roughing the passer? $15,750 minimum.
Spearing, hit on defenseless player, blindside block, impermissible helmet use? $21,000 minimum.
Fighting? $26,250 minimum.
Excessive profanity or other unsportsmanlike conduct triggers a minimum fine of $10,500.
Foreign substances on the uniform/body or failure to wear a chin strap results in a minimum fine of $7,875.
Throwing a football into the stands or personal messages on the uniform draw a minimum fine of $5,250.
For second offenses, all minimum fines double.
Remember, these are minimum fines. The league office can go higher, if it chooses.
The fines for on-field misconduct between players are subject to appeal to Ted Cottrell or Art Shell, former coaches who have been jointly appointed and who are jointly paid by the NFL and the NFLPA. And while the initial fines are disclosed by the league on request, announcements regarding reductions rarely if ever are made.
Some believe that the fines should be based on a percentage of player salary or cap number. Until that happens (and it possibly never will), specific amounts negotiated by the NFL and the NFLPA will apply to all players, regardless of how much or how little they make.