Cleveland Browns safety Jabrill Peppers plans to appeal the $24,000 fine he received for a questionable hit on Cincinnati Bengals receiver Josh Malone in the waning moments of the Bengals’ 30-16 win last week.
“They said I can appeal it and see how much it drops, if it drops at all, and see how that appeal process goes,” Peppers said during the team’s Thursday media availability.
Peppers, like many, is struggling to figure out how to play a violent game within the rules of non-violence the league is adopting in order to combat degenerative brain disorders apparently stemming from playing football.
It’s worth noting that $24,309 is the exact of amount of the fine, the same amount awarded for hits on defenseless receivers and impermissible use of the helmet.
Peppers appeared to do neither of those things, but the NFL seems to think differently. Peppers’ hit on Malone was not aimed at his helmet, and not made against a defenseless receiver. Malone caught a long pass from Andy Dalton, turned to run up field, and was hit by Peppers to jar the ball loose. At worst, Peppers was a little high when he struck Malone.
And it looked violent.
Peppers and many others who fail to see the error are stuck wondering how a defensive back is supposed to break up passes without being fined hefty sums of money and hurting their team with a costly penalty in the process.
“I do think that they should have some type of review on plays like that to make it fair because right now it is like, where can we hit the guy to dislodge him from the ball? You hit him too hard up top and it looks too violent; they flag you,” Peppers said. “If you go too low, you are a dirty player and you are maliciously trying to injure someone.”
NCAA officials review similar plays for targeting penalties, which help alleviate erroneous calls made from questionable plays that happen quickly in real-time. Maybe the NFL should listen to its players and adopt something similar.
Whatever the NFL does from here, it needs to be more consistent.