By Adam Hoge-
(CBS) — Bears rookie linebacker Jon Bostic introduced himself to the NFL last week when he blindsided Chargers receiver Mike Willie and leveled him just moments after he caught the ball.
By last year’s standards, it may have been a clean hit, but replays showed Bostic lowering his head and making contact to Willie’s chest with the crown of his helmet (defined as the very top of the helmet). That isn’t always worthy of a fine from the league, but by definition of the NFL’s new crown of the helmet rule, it is if you a) are outside the tackle box and b) line up your opponent.
Bostic appeared to do both.
Despite saying Monday that his hit had been deemed clean, Bostic was fined $21,000 by the league, according to Lance Briggs, who was critical of the fine on Twitter.
It should be pointed out that the NFL has not announced specifically why Bostic was fined. It’s possible Willie was also determined to be a defenseless receiver. But if it was a result of the new crown of the helmet rule, it’s hard to argue with Bostic’s fine based on the definition said rule. That said, it is fair to question if the league is going too far with these new helmet rules. The crown of the helmet rule also applies to running backs who may lower their head bracing for contact. Some may consider that a ploy to deter complaints from defenders who are running out of tackling options, but Briggs’ point is that low hits cause injuries too — season ending ones. With every new rule that discourages hits with and/or to the helmet, more hits at the knees/legs are being created.
Of course, Briggs’ complaint is a perfect example of why the league is struggling in their attempt to make the game safer. If they take away low hits as well, the area to legally tackle a guy could shrink to smaller than a baseball strikezone.
As for Bostic, a $21,000 fine is a lot for a guy only making $405,000 in his rookie year. He can appeal the fine.
Perhaps more significant than the money, however, is that this will make him a repeat offender if he violates the rule again and that can result in a suspension. The rookie has enough to worry about out there, and the last thing the Bears want is for him to become tentative because he’s worried about fines/suspensions.
– 670 The Score’s Zach Zaidman brings up a good point, what kind of fine would this Jon Bostic hit on Teddy Bridgewater draw in the NFL?
– Bears rookie right tackle Jordan Mills hopes it will be “a long journey” next to fellow rookie Kyle Long. The Bears obviously agree.
– Mike Ditka returned to Halas Hall Tuesday and spoke to the team after practice.
– The Bears have one last practice Wednesday at 11:10 a.m. before traveling to Oakland Thursday for Friday’s game.
Adam Hoge covers the Bears for CBSChicago.com and is a frequent contributor to 670 The Score. Follow him on Twitter at @AdamHoge.