49ers linebacker Ahmad Brooks doesn’t like that he received a flag and later a fine for hitting Saints quarterback Drew Brees in the neck. But Brooks doesn’t mind the fact that the issue has given him plenty of attention.
“I’m not upset,” Brooks said Thursday, via the team’s official website. “Obviously it’s given me a lot of publicity.
“This is the most publicity I’ve ever had, off of one play.”
He’s had some publicity before. Brooks entered the league as a much-hyped third-round pick in the supplemental draft, his stock diminished by marijuana issues at the University of Virginia. Unlike some of the low-risk, high-reward players the Bengals drafted, Brooks didn’t work out in Cincinnati, but his career eventually has flourished in San Francisco.
During the offseason, Brooks almost got a lot more publicity after allegedly smashing a beer bottle on a teammate’s head. Prosecutors opted not to pursue criminal charges.
As to the more recent non-criminal charges levied by the league, Brooks maintains his innocence.
“I thought it was a clean hit,” Brooks said. “You can argue a little something here or there, but at the end of the day, it was a clean hit. I didn’t hit him in the head; I didn’t hit him in the neck.”
Brooks says he hit Brees in the chest. NFL V.P. of officiating Dean Blandino has said that, if the contact begins at chest level and moves up to the neck, it’s still a foul. The rule book arguably implies that the “sliding-up” principle applies only to contact from the helmet or facemask.
Brooks also has reiterated that he won’t take money from ESPN analyst and former Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis.
“Why should I?” Brooks said. “I’m alright [financially], man.”
He could end up even better financially, if the appeal of his fine is successful.