Jerron McMillian had a feeling he might get fined after his unnecessary roughness hit on New York Giants tight end Martellus Bennett last Sunday.
However, it wasn’t until he saw the NFL-issued stationery sitting in his locker this week that he knew it for certain. The amount? $21,000 or roughly 5 percent of his base rookie salary this season.
Yes, the fine was hard to swallow and McMillian plans to appeal, but if you’re expecting the Green Bay Packers rookie safety to play any differently the next time around, think again.
“None at all. None at all,” said McMillian of what impact the fine will have on his game. “I’m not going to slow down playing the game because the game is fast-paced. Things of that nature, you don’t want it to happen, but you don’t think about it as you’re playing the game. Hopefully, I’ll just try to stay out of situations like that.”
The NFL ruled McMillian made helmet-to-helmet contact with a defenseless Bennett in the end zone during the fourth quarter of the Packers’ 38-10 loss, adding him to a growing list of Packers’ youngsters who have had their paychecks docked this season.
In their last three games, the Packers have been flagged for at least one personal foul that’s resulted in a player being fined in excess of $15,750, beginning with linebacker Brad Jones making contact with Detroit quarterback Matthew Stafford’s helmet two weeks ago.
McMillian’s fine matches tight end Ryan Taylor’s illegal blindside block against Arizona on Nov. 4 as the most expensive fines issued to Packers’ players this season.
In October, McMillian’s rookie class teammate, first-round linebacker Nick Perry, was also docked $15,000 for leading with the crown of his helmet on Indianapolis quarterback Andrew Luck.
The NFL’s continued emphasis on player safety and concussions has ushered in a new era of protecting players and officiating, but it’s also left veteran defensive coordinators like Dom Capers wondering what to tell their players.
“It’s hard because I’m just telling you there are certain times as a coach, you say to yourself, ‘What do I coach that guy to do?’” Capers said.
“I don’t want him to let him catch the ball and then hit him. I’ve always said, since the time I began coaching, if the ball is in the air you have as much right to it as the other guy, so go for the football. We tell our guys to stay away from the head and I thought the dipped the shoulder and hit him up under there, but he was going for the ball. That’s a tough one.”
Both Capers and safeties coach, Darren Perry, felt McMillian’s play on the ball was fine, but there’s been backlash out of New York this week with Bennett claiming it was a “cheap shot.”
Either way, the Packers who have been fined this season have no plans on changing how they play. With the game moving as fast as it ever has, it's forced the defense and special-teams coverage teams to adjust.
“It definitely makes you think about the way that you play, but playing that way has gotten me there,” said Taylor, whose appeal is still pending. “To me, as you don’t play illegally, playing hard is not wrong. As long as it’s legal within the rules, I think there’s nothing wrong with the hard-hitting.”