The NFL just doubled down on one of the most questionable penalty calls in recent memory.
When Chicago Bears linebacker Cassius Marsh sacked Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger in the fourth quarter of their Week 9 Monday Night Football matchup, Marsh did something he had always done: He celebrated the sack with a spinning kick in the air. Marsh then took several steps toward the Steelers sideline, not uttering a word, before he turned to run off the field. As he ran off, it looked very much like referee Tony Corrente had initiated contact with him:
“On my way to the sideline, I got hip-checked by the ref and it’s pretty clear,” Marsh said after the game. “If I were to do that to a ref or even touch a ref, we’d get kicked out of the game and possibly suspended and fined. I just think that that was incredibly inappropriate.”
Now, almost a week later, Marsh has been fined almost $6,000 for unsportsmanlike conduct.
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Marsh Plans to Appeal Fine, Per NFL Insider
“The league informed Marsh on Friday he’s being fined $5,972 for unsportsmanlike conduct, a source told NFL.com,” Tom Pelissero of the NFL Network reported on November 13. Pelissero also noted that “Marsh plans to appeal in hopes of getting the fine rescinded.”
You have to feel for Marsh, a journeyman defender who was signed to Chicago’s practice squad the week before the game.
“I think that one was just bad timing,” Marsh said. “I think it was pretty clear to everybody who saw it that I wasn’t taunting. I’ve been doing that celebration my whole career and it’s just sad to see stuff like that happen in a close game like that. It’s just rough, man.”
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NFL Blasted for Doubling Down on Marsh Call
NFL Senior Vice President of Officiating Perry Fewell defended Corrente this week, saying that Marsh took “several steps towards the Pittsburgh bench, posturing towards their sideline.” Now, the fine has been tacked on, and Twitter had some words about it all:
Peter King of NBC Sports called the fine “sinful:”
Former Bears scouting director Greg Gabriel noted the league wasn’t making the situation any better for anyone involved:
Others simply pointed out the head-scratching hypocrisy of the NFL when it comes to doling out fines lately:
Some also wondered where the fine for Corrente was:
Marsh will likely appeal this week, and the results should come shortly after that. The Bears are on their bye week, but it’s clear the team isn’t holding this one against Marsh.
“That was a BS call,” Bears starting inside linebacker Roquan Smith said about the taunting penalty, via NBC Sports. “The man’s been doing that celebration his entire career, and for that to be called一 but hey, it is what it is. … It sucks. It’s just about going to the next play and we just have to eliminate those self-inflicted wounds like this. It’s never good.”