Referees didn't think Jon Bostic's monster hit in last Thursday's preseason game against the San Diego Chargers was worth a flag, but the NFL league office decided it was worth a $21,000 fine.
What hit, you ask?
Oh, yeah, this one:
The second-round pick out of Florida is scheduled to make $405,000 this year. That makes this hit worth almost 1/20th of his salary -- basically a game's worth, considering 16 regular season matchups and four preseason games.
The league office argues that Mike Willie was a defenseless receiver and that Bostic targets him with his helmet, though both are debatable. Willie has made his catch and is complete control as he turns upfield and simply fails to notice or chooses to ignore Bostic. The tackle looks pretty much like a form tackle, not an example of the blatantly dangerous hits where a guy lowers his entire body to use his helmet as a battering ram.
Bostic does appear to make slight helmet-to-helmet contact, but it doesn't seem like an example of dangerous play -- just an incredible amount of force being applied by one person to another. I'm all for instating safety precautions to protect of football players of all ages as we learn the scary consequences of concussions, but, it's not clear what Bostic could have done here besides hitting his opponent less hard.
For their part, on-field officials did not flag the play, simply ruling it an incomplete pass -- though it could've been a fumble.
Lance Briggs was not too pleased:
Shaking my head moment. Nfl fines jon bostic 21k for his clean hit against the chargers.— Lance Briggs (@LanceBriggs) August 21, 2013
Bostic is trying to supplant D.J. Williams as the Bears' first starting middle linebacker of the post-Brian Urlacher era. He might get fined for hitting that hard, but he likely won't lose ground in the eyes of his coaching staff.