T.J. Lang’s decision to intervene after K.J. Wright drove Richard Rodgers to the ground by the helmet in Sunday’s 27-17 win over Seattle will cost the Green Bay Packers starting right guard $8,681. He plans to appeal.
The fine was disappointing, but Lang said he wasn’t surprised after the NFL recently sent him a letter to notify him that he’d be put on a repeat offenders list if he committed another unsportsmanlike penalty in the wake of his previous one during last January’s playoff game against Dallas.
Wright, a fifth-year linebacker, was ejected in the fourth quarter of Sunday night’s game after grabbing Rodgers under his facemask and driving the second-year tight end to the ground at the end of a James Starks’ run. After he didn't disengage, Lang stepped in and a small scuffle ensued.
Lang announced his fine on Twitter Wednesday, saying “$8,681. Price of defending your teammate in the NFL.” The league told him it was because he “unnecessarily dove into the pile.”
“I still disagree with both the penalties that I ended up getting but I wasn’t surprised," said Lang, whose penalty against the Cowboys came under similar circumstances. “You guys have all seen the play. Richard’s sitting there getting his head pinned back and smashed into the turf. The consequences would be a lot harsher if I just stood there and watched him take it. If it happens a hundred more times, I’ll do it a hundred more times.”
Wright said Thursday that he was fined an undisclosed amount and plans to appeal, according to Pro Football Talk’s Curtis Crabtree. After the game, quarterback Aaron Rodgers commended Lang for stepping in.
Starting left tackle David Bakhtiari has seen Lang’s leadership and assertiveness since the moment he was drafted in 2013. If a teammate is in trouble, the seventh-year guard will be one of the first into fray. On Sunday, Lang responded when he saw Rodgers’ head in a compromising position and Bakhtiari is thankful for that.
“I think anyone in this locker room knows he has their back at the end of the day,” Bakhtiari said. “It’s just tough when T.J. is trying to protect his teammate who’s obviously getting his neck pinned back. I think that was uncalled for, for one. It’s one thing trash trashing that goes on; things happen. At the end of the day, we’re all players. These players have parents and some even of these players have kids, a family, a wife. When you put someone’s life in danger, that’s pretty uncalled for. I think T.J. takes it personally.
“This is not only his teammate, but I think we’d at least say we’re all friends in here. Going in there trying to help out a friend who’s obviously in a compromised position, it’s just tough for him to get fined for protecting his teammate for one and two, being somewhat of a mediator. It’s not like he wasn’t there to punch some dude in the head. He was trying to protect Richard.”
— firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @WesHod.