Bears linebacker Brian Urlacher hasn’t personally been affected by the league’s crackdown on hits to the head, but that doesn’t mean he’s not bothered by it.
“It hasn’t changed what I do, it hasn’t changed what our defense does,” Urlacher said this morning on ESPN Radio. “You’ve got to be a little more aware, I guess, but we don’t want to be aware of how we hit someone or where we can hit him or the timing or that.”
But Urlacher then continued that since he doesn’t want to have to think about how he’s going to hit someone during a game, he certainly doesn’t want to have to think about whether he’s going to be fined days later.
“I think it’s bull, the way they’re doing it,” Urlacher said. “The thing I don’t like about it is, if they say it, you pay the fine. That’s all there is to it. And I don’t know who makes the decision. I don’t know if there’s one guy, two guys, but I don’t think it’s fair. I think we should have a panel of guys who look at those hits and go over them.”
There’s nothing surprising about those complaints, which echo the complaints of many defensive players in the league this season. But it was a little surprising — and refreshing — to hear Urlacher speak up on behalf of lower-paid players who are often given fines just as big as their higher-paid teammates.
“I think the money’s outrageous,” Urlacher said. “Why can’t there be different levels of fines? A league minimum guy getting fined 50 grand? That’s a lot of money for him. Making 300 grand a year getting almost a fifth of his paycheck gone? I can go on all day about this because it frustrates me when I see these hits and these guys getting fined.”
On that score, Urlacher makes a great point, a similar point to the one raised by Erin Henderson of the Vikings, who said fines should be a percentage of a player’s income. Henderson is still playing on the contract he signed as an undrafted rookie in 2008, so in his case the idea was self-serving. But the suggestion carries more weight coming from a highly paid player like Urlacher.
So here’s hoping the NFL listens to Urlacher on that front. Even if we already know that Urlacher and the league office disagree sharply on the broader issue of helmet-to-helmet hits.