ENGLEWOOD, Colo. –In the wake of his second fine for a hit on an opposing quarterback in three weeks, Von Miller was left with one question he couldn’t answer: which of his hits on Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez drew the $25,000 fine?
“The letter I got, it said I hit him in the chest. The hit that has all the controversy was the one where I hit him in the back a couple of seconds late, but they said I hit him in the chest,” Miller explained in the Broncos’ locker room Friday afternoon.
The communiqué from the league office could have been referring to one of two hits — neither of which was his last-minute sack of Sanchez, when he hit the quarterback in the chest with his shoulder.
With 9:38 left in the second quarter, Miller lowered his helmet and hit Mark Sanchez in the chest as he released a pass to Joe McKnight in the end zone. No penalty was assessed.
There was also no flag issued when Miller hit Sanchez in the back on a third-and-10 with 1:37 left in the third quarter, although it appeared a 15-yard infraction for a late hit could have been enforced.
“On that play, my shoulder hit him in the back,” Miller said.
“I’m kind of foggy about which hit it was. I’m sure it’s one of them. I’m not saying that I didn’t commit a hit that I should be fined for, because I did get to him a couple of times, but that’s part of the game now.”
Miller’s fine comes two days after he was named AFC Defensive Player of the Week, and re-awakens questions about the league’s perceived double standard regarding big hits, which have been celebrated in highlight films released on videotape and DVD for decades but have been the subject of an increasing league crackdown to promote safer play in recent years.
“Youu’ve just got to make those adjustments. That’s part of the game. We’re doing it for player safety: not just for the offensive guys, but the defensive guys, too,” Miller said. “That’s just part of the game now.
“I’m definitely going to keep playing with fanatical effort and relentless pursuit to the ball. As far as hits, I’ve definitely got to make some adjustments to get the quarterback down, to commit some hits on the running back or whoever the ballcarrier is. I’ve just got to make those adjustments so I don’t get fined.”
Miller was fined $15,000 for a hit on Oakland quarterback Carson Palmer in Week 9. The appeal process for the fine remains ongoing, Miller said.
“My agents, I’m sure they’re being proactive with the situation. They’ll take the steps necessary for me to get it resolved or reduced,” Miller said. “All I can do is just wait.
Safety Brian Dawkins, a veteran of multiple league fines over his 16-year career, took a similar perspective, although his displeasure over the state of affairs regarding league punishment for hits was clear.
“My feelings don’t matter. My opinions don’t matter,” Dawkins said. “They’re going to do the things that they do and we’re going to have to just go out and play football full tilt and whatever happens, happens. That’s basically what it is right now.
“The league is so touchy-feely with what we can and cannot do, running full speed, and it’s no use to me sitting here berating or going on a tantrum of what we can’t do. We just have to go out and play full speed and whatever happens, happens.”