Green Bay Packers linebacker A.J. Hawk can expect the NFL to fine him for an obscene gesture that he says was part of a running joke with some teammates.
After Hawk sacked St. Louis quarterback Sam Bradford in the second quarter of the Packers’ 24-3 win Sunday, Hawk pointed to the Packers’ sideline and gave the finger, which was caught by the Fox network’s broadcast of the game.
“It’s kind of been a running joke with some of my teammates,” Hawk said after the game. “There was no anger or malice or anything. It was a joke and I kind of got caught up in the emotions of the game. I definitely apologize if any kids or anyone else saw it. I have a daughter myself, so I wouldn’t want her doing that. Got excited and got caught up in the game. I guess a bad joke. I definitely won’t do it again.”
Hawk probably can expect a fine in the $7,500 to $10,000 range. In 2008, Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker James Farrior was fined $7,500 for giving the finger to Cleveland Browns fans who were cheering a Steelers injury.
The league has levied far bigger fines for the same gesture by Tennessee owner Bud Adams and former Titans assistant coach Chuck Cecil, though the larger fines were because the NFL holds team management and coaches to a higher standard of behavior than players.
In 2009, Adams was fined $250,000 for giving the double bird to fans while he celebrated a Titans’ win in Buffalo. Last year, Cecil was fined $40,000 for giving the finger to an official after the Titans were called for a defensive penalty in a game against Denver.
Hawk wouldn’t provide any details about the running joke or who else is involved.
“I can’t go into everything about it,” Hawk said. “I’m stupid. I don’t even realize sometimes when I’m out there that anyone’s out there – the TVs or anything. I know it got caught on TV and that was a bad decision by me. So I apologize. It’s definitely no anger or anything behind it. I don’t think I’ll be doing that anymore.”
Shields hurt by bad decision
Cornerback Sam Shields turned a good play into a bad outcome when he tried to return an interception in the end zone and ended up with a possible concussion.
In the fourth quarter, Shields intercepted an underthrown fade pattern to receiver Danario Alexander in the back corner of the end zone and decided to try for a big return. He ran across the end zone toward what he thought was open field but didn’t see Rams receiver Brandon Gibson, who dropped Shields with a hard shoulder shot to the chest.
Shields stayed down momentarily then left the field on his own. But he didn’t return, and coach Mike McCarthy said after the game Shields had a head injury, which presumably means a concussion. That leaves Shields’ status uncertain for next week’s game at Minnesota
Shields never left the end zone, so the Packers got the ball on a touchback. But they were leading 24-3 in the fourth quarter at the time, and there was little to gain by even attempting the return.
“It’s about decisions,” McCarthy said. “Any time you’re involved in handling the football, whether you’re playing quarterback, playing running back, returning kicks, you have an interception, you have to make smart decisions with the football. That probably wasn’t the best decision.”
Burnett's in the club
Safety Morgan Burnett played with a huge, padded club on the broken right hand he sustained in practice last week.
The starting safety finished tied for second on the team in tackles (nine), though he had a glaring missed tackle on the game’s third play when tight end Lance Kendricks eluded him after catching a short pass and turned about a seven-yard gain into a 45-yarder.
“It really wasn’t the club,” Burnett said of the missed tackle. “I have to play with lower pad level, get my head across, wrap up and run my feet.”
Burnett said he doesn’t know how long he’ll have to wear the club, though it presumably will get smaller in the coming weeks as his hand heals.
Mason Crosby wasn’t taking anything for granted, not with winds gusting from 23-32 miles an hour at Lambeau Field.
So even his 32-yard field goal in the first quarter was no sure thing. But he drilled it to improve to 10-for-10 this season. Dating back to last year, he has now made 17 straight regular-season field goals, tying Chris Jacke’s team record from 1993.
Crosby came into the season with a career percentage of 78.1 in the regular season and has never been better than 79.5 percent for any single season. He signed a five-year, $14.75 million contract as an unrestricted free agent this offseason.
“A lot of things have come together,” Crosby said. “The operation is as good as it’s ever been. We’ve had two years together now, and we’re feeling solid. I feel comfortable with that. Detailing my work, I’ve learned every year a little more about how to be a professional and an NFL kicker. It was great getting that contract. Now it’s just another season, and I’ve got to keep rolling and keep these going through.”
In his first action since he broke his scapula on Aug. 19, linebacker Frank Zombo split reps with starter Erik Walden at right outside linebacker.
Zombo was credited with four tackles, including three solo stops, but didn’t record any sacks or quarterback hits.
“It felt good to be back out there,” Zombo said. “Knocked some of the rust off and toward the end of the game I could feel myself coming into my own and put a few good rushes together. Physically, I feel great.”
Right tackle Bryan Bulaga played with a brace on his injured left knee after missing the last two games because of a sprain.
“Felt good, didn’t feel any different, felt strong. Went well," he said.