After San Francisco 49ers linebacker Ahmad Brooks got penalized for a legal hit on New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees former Baltimore Ravens linebacker and current ESPN Analyst Ray Lewis offered to pay half of the fine if the NFL decided to.
Brooks did receive a fine of $15,750 and appealed. Matt Birk is the League Appeals Officer and overturned the ruling even after Dean Blandino the Vice President of Officiating deemed it the “absolutely correct call.” As a result of the penalty which took away a turnover by Brees he led the Saints down the field for a last second field goal dropping the 49ers to 6-4. San Francisco has now won five straight since the fiasco and are just one game behind the Seattle Seahawks for the NFC West division title. If the penalty didn’t get called the 49ers and Seahawks are tied for the division lead heading into the final game of the season.
This isn’t the first time during the 2013 season that San Francisco received an unsportsmanlike penalty call that didn’t have merit. Safety Donte Whitner hit Indianapolis Colts running back Ahmad Bradshaw and later the NFL said “the penalty flag shouldn’t have been thrown.” More recently Whitner got penalized for a hit on Atlanta Falcons running back Steven Jackson on a similar hit and learned he “won’t get fined.” He also got penalized for a hit on Tampa Bay Buccaneers tight end Tim Wright no fine by the league and successfully won an appeal of a $21,000 fine for a hit on St. Louis Rams wide receiver Chris Givens.
The safety also said about the hits “even if it looks bad, it’s not bad. It’s shoulder. It’s not launching. It’s not using the crown of my helmet. It’s playing the game (the way) it’s supposed to be played. … If you look at every hit, that’s the way that you should play football. Lead with your shoulder. Just because it’s a powerful hit doesn’t mean it’s an illegal hit. This is football.”
At the moment it has become necessary for the NFL to replay the infraction before a determination whether or not the 15-yard penalty is the correct call.