What Carolina Panthers defensive tackle Vernon Butler Jr. did last weekend certainly deserves a fine. Everyone can agree on that. By punching Indianapolis Colts tight end Jack Doyle unprovoked and flipping off the crowd, Butler earned his ejection and then some.
But the way the league went about the fine was just comical.
NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero reported on Saturday that the NFL is handing Butler $24,564 in fines — $10,527 for the punch and $14,037 for the middle finger.
If you’re surprised that the NFL cares more about offending fans than players randomly punching each other, you’re not alone.
Of course, it’s worth noting that the NFL has a system that is supposed to neutrally decide how much a player is fined. It’s why players get fined such random amounts. The NFL and NFLPA collectively bargained an on-field conduct guide with minimum penalties; a first offense for striking, kicking, or kneeing a player earns a $10,527 fine, while unsportsmanlike conduct is a $14,037 ticket.
Still, these parties have the power to decide their priorities. They have the opportunity to say which matters more: starting a physical fight with a person or disrespecting a crowd.
Plenty of people already think the NFL is out of touch when it comes to handling plenty of other issues on and off the field. Perhaps it’s time to revisit how much infractions cost players so that they can be more clear about what matters to them.
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