Broncos linebacker Brandon Marshall and safety Darian Stewart won’t be surrendering their cash for hits on Cam Newton quickly or happily. Both said on Wednesday that they will appeal fines imposed for illegal hits on the Panthers quarterback.
“Absolutely, you have to appeal,” Marshall told reporters regarding his $24,309 fine. “No matter what happens, I have to appeal it. That’s a lot of money, think about it.”
Marshall seemed to be far more bothered by the amount of the fine than the fact that a fine was imposed.
“That’s a huge fine,” Marshall said. “I know what it looks like. I know what it looked like. It looked bad, but that’s a lot of money. That’s what I’m upset about.”
Stewart will appeal his fine, too.
“I absolutely will,” Stewart told reporters. “I will definitely appeal the fine. . . . I was just trying to make a play. I was just being aggressive, but not really trying to aim for the head.”
That argument overlooks the reality that Stewart still is prohibited from striking Newton with Stewart’s helmet anywhere, in the head or otherwise. Which makes it seem as if the common public misconception regarding what is and isn’t permitted when striking a passer (no blows to the head and neck of the passer, no contact anywhere with the defender’s helmet) also are common within the Denver locker room.
“I’ll just say this, we play hard and we’re going to continue to play hard,” coach Gary Kubiak said regarding the issue of fines for hitting Newton. “It’s really difficult defensively when you have a quarterback who goes from a passer to a runner and you’re committed and you’re committed as a football player and that’s what both of these guys were. We understand that you have to stay away from the head, we understand those types of things, but we’re going to continue to play hard, that one’s in the past, we’re moving on.”
Kubiak’s reference to a quarterback who runs and who passes echoes an explanation provided this week by NFL V.P. of officiating Dean Blandino on NFL Network, where he explained that the running or passing posture of the quarterback dictates where and how he can be hit. It’s an issue that arose a year ago, after Ravens linebacker Terrell Suggs hit former Eagles quarterback Sam Bradford low after Bradford had completed a handoff following a read-option handoff. As to Newton, however, all of the illegal hits came when he was clearly in a passing posture.
Regardless of whether the Broncos agree or disagree, the fines put the players on clear notice of the expectations of the league. It’s now up to the officials to do a better job of spotting all fouls against all quarterbacks in real time — and for the league to consider applying a more aggressive disciplinary schedule, since plenty of players seem to be willing to risk a fine. Few would be willing to risk an ejection or a suspension.