The NFL fined New England Patriots wide receiver Danny Amendola for a big block he unleashed on Kansas City Chiefs cornerback Jamell Fleming on a punt play in the second quarter of Patriots' Divisional Round victory. The Patriots receiver told Mike Reiss of ESPN that he received notice of the fine this week and that he plans to appeal. The amount of Amendola's fine was not reported, though the standard fine for a hit on a defenseless player is $23,152.
Amendola was flagged for unnecessary roughness, but the penalty only cost the Patriots two yards because the hit occurred on the four-yard line. The penalty of the foul was half the distance of the goal.
According to the NFL bylaws, unnecessary roughness can be called when a player launches himself into an opponent who "should not have reasonably anticipated such contact by an opponent, before or after the ball is dead." The penalty can also be called when a player uses his helmet or face mask to "butt, spear, or ram an opponent violently or unnecessarily."
It appears as if Amendola led with his shoulder, so it's fair to surmise the referees flagged for unnecessary roughness because they didn't think Fleming was expecting to be hit. It's worth mentioning, though, the NFL doesn't categorize players on the kicking team as defenseless.
After the game, Fleming said Amendola's vicious block was calculated. "Of course he knows he stuck me and everything," Fleming said, via the Boston Globe. "And the crowd knows it, but there’s nothing I can do about it. We have one of the best pooch-area punt teams, of course, and I find the ball very good. Of course that was calculated. That wasn’t no fluke play. Everybody knows that, your own fans know that. So that’s how you know it’s bad."
If Vontaze Burfict got suspended for 3 games for a shoulder. What yall think this weak dude should get? https://t.co/8GAwUtlQtg— JamellFleming (@JamellFleming) January 17, 2016
Amendola, meanwhile, is adamant it was a clean hit. Bill Belichick defended Amendola after the game as well.
"Saw him trying to block the guy trying to down the ball" Belichick said, via WEEI.com. "It’s hard to tell from the coaching film where the hit occurred. It was a legal play. We’re allowed to block him. [Amendola] didn’t give a fair catch signal so he’s allowed to block."
Last week, the NFL suspended Cincinnati Bengals linebacker Vontaze Burfict three games for a vicious helmet-to-helmet hit he unleashed on Pittsburgh Steelers wideout Antonio Brown. Burfict was likely suspended instead of fined because he's a repeat offender, racking up the most unnecessary roughness penalties in the league since 2012.
Amendola says he'll appeal any fine the league hands down on him. Let's see if he's a man of his word.