NFL’s $21K fine for Jon Bostic not fine by Bears
BY ADAM L. JAHNS Staff Reporter August 21, 2013 4:10PM
Updated: September 23, 2013 2:33PM
The NFL may be trying to send a message to rookie linebacker Jon Bostic and other players by fining him $21,000 for his booming hit on San Diego Chargers receiver Mike Willie in last week’s preseason game.
But Bostic sent one to players with his hit, too.
Just like he did at Florida, where he hit Louisville quarterback Teddy Bridgewater so hard his helmet popped off, Bostic can make a highlight out of you.
“It’s really just trying to get the ball back to the offense, more taking on the ball and ballcarrier,” Bostic said Wednesday after practice. “That’s how we look at it, not so much sending a message. It’s about trying to get the ball back, creating turnovers.”
As far as his fine, which will likely be appealed, Bostic said the “whole process” is new to him and that his coaches told him he made “a good play” when going over the film.
Tight end Martellus Bennett called it a “perfect hit,” saying “his hat was in the guy’s chest.” Coach Marc Trestman called it a “clean hit.”
“I can only address what I saw,” Trestman said, “and that is, his head was up and he hit with his shoulder and he ran through the player the way we’re trying to teach these guys to play every day, to be safe for themselves and for the guys that they are hitting, to do it the right way.”
According to the league, Bostic violated the rule protecting players in a defenseless posture -- although Willie appeared to make the catch. The specific rule Bostic violated prohibits “lowering the head and making forcible contact with the top/crown or forehead/”hairline” parts of the helmet against any part of the defenseless player’s body.”
Linebacker Lance Briggs, who is mentoring Bostic and rookie linebacker Khaseem Greene, has serious problems with the fine. Bostic was not penalized for it during the game.
“The league thought that it was an illegal hit; I disagree,” Briggs said. “I think that if you ask around the league, probably 100 percent of the league’s going to say it was a legal hit, but it’s not my call.
“You have to continue to play football the best way you know how and that’s what he was doing. None of the referees seemed to think there was anything wrong with the play.”
What could have Bostic done differently?
“He could have allowed the receiver to run him over – that’s another technique,” Briggs said. “We could play the catch technique, we could take a charge, I don’t know, you gotta play football.”
Briggs has a problem that hits like Houston Texans safety D.J. Swearinger’s low tackle on Miami Dolphins tight end Dustin Keller is legal, while Bostic’s wasn’t. Keller tore his ACL, MCL and PCL and dislocated his knee cap.
So what’s left to hit?
“The navel … and below,” Briggs said. “There’s not a lot of area to hit when you’re playing at 100 miles an hour and you’re told to react right now. One thing that you do know is that you can’t hit in the head- neck, really in the chest area, so what does that leave left? That’s it.”
Bostic will be the Bears’ starting middle linebacker and his hit on Willie had been one of his top highlights this preseason. But his defensive teammates don’t think it will change his approach or impede his progress.
“I’m sure guys and coaches will talk to him and say you’ve just got to keep on playing,” said safety Chris Conte, who was fined last season. “He can’t change the way he’s playing. He’s playing great, so keep it up.”