Harrison Smith has been fined more times than he can recall, and if you ask him, it’s not because he’s a dirty player.
The veteran Vikings safety believes the NFL has a double standard for offensive versus defensive players when it comes to certain rules like helmet-to-helmet contact and grabbing the facemask.
“Obviously, if the facemask is egregious, like the two [Browns quarterback] Deshaun Watson had against Pittsburgh (in Week 2), they call it,” Smith told the Star Tribune, referring to two plays where Watson was fined $35,513 for three different infractions he committed on Monday Night Football.
“But, basically, they can facemask us on every play as long as they don’t grab it. But if we graze theirs, that’s a penalty and a 10- , 15-grand fine.”
The NFL has long kept a veil up surrounding its process for code of conduct violations on the field, only reporting fines that reporters ask about. Under the league’s new gameday accountability initiative, the NFL is now reporting all fines given each week — something that’s long been overdue, according to Smith.
“They should be totally transparent on the total amount of money they’ve taken from defensive players compared to offensive players over the last 10, 15 years,” he added.
According to league data through three weeks, defensive players have received 67.3%, 68 of 101 fines issues.
In Week 3, 76.4% of fines were issued to defensive players, and Smith received one of them.
Harrison Smith Fined Over $21,000 in Week 3
Before his interview with the Star Tribune, Smith had a clean sheet.
But on Saturday the NFL issued him a fine worth $21,855 for what the NFL called unnecessary roughness.
“Amount corresponds to first offense of impermissible use of helmet, aka the ‘helmet rule,’ ” ESPN’s Kevin Seifert reported. “Wasn’t penalized in the game, but NFL aggressively issues fines for it.”
The fine rivals one of the most expensive Smith has ever received in his career.
Smith said his most expensive fine was $24,000 for what he admits was an illegal hit over the middle in a preseason game his rookie year, per the Star Tribune.
“That year, I had two that were on bang-bang plays that I appealed,” he said. “They weren’t rescinded or lowered.
“But the thing I find funny is another time, I decided to wear tights that I knew were not allowed. They fined me $5,000 and lowered it to $2,000 after I appealed. So on the bang-bang plays where there’s no time to make a decision, those aren’t rescinded or lowered. But the time I made a conscious decision to break a rule, that got lowered. Doesn’t make sense.”
Vikings Enter Must-Win Matchup in Carolina
The Vikings are off to their seventh 0-3 start to the season in franchise history and must get a win over the Panthers to have any feasible chance at making the postseason. Only one team in NFL history has come back from a 0-4 star to make the playoffs.
None of the other 0-3 Vikings teams ever made the postseason, however, this year’s team does have the makings of a team that is better than their record suggests.
However, it will come down to picking up a road win over the Panthers, who are equally desperate with a 0-3 record.