Last Sunday, Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker T.J. Watt was hit with a 15-yard roughing-the-passer penalty after he barely grazed the lower leg of Matt Ryan.
On Friday morning, the NFL handed down a fine of $20,054 for “forcibly hitting in the knee area of below” on that hit of Ryan, per ESPN’s Adam Schefter.
NFL fined its co-sack leader, TJ Watt, $20,054 for “forcibly hitting in the knee area or below” Falcons’ QB Matt Ryan, per source. The league office instructed the Steelers to deduct the money from Watt’s paycheck if he does not appeal.
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) October 12, 2018
Not long after that, Watt’s older brother, Houston Texans defensive end J.J. Watt, made his feelings known with a comment attached to video of that same hit.
Clearly, he cannot believe the league fined his brother.
$20,000 for this?!?!?! https://t.co/9qkTAmjHvg
— JJ Watt (@JJWatt) October 12, 2018
Honestly, neither can I.
It’s hard to justify the notion that Watt “forcibly” hit Ryan in the lower leg area here. If anything, he seemed to be working overtime to not hit Ryan hard whatsoever once he realized he was going in low.
Certainly, there was no intent to injure.
That being said, it’s common knowledge that the league’s emphasis on protecting the quarterback is a one-sided pursuit that has and will continue to screw defensive players out of money, and in come cases, out of an entire season due to injury.