Detroit Lions wide receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown was fined $43,709 for a block he threw during the team’s Week 11 game against the Chicago Bears. That is an absolutely massive fine by NFL standards—particularly for a player who doesn’t exactly have a rep of bad behavior or poor conduct. In fact, it was the largest fine of Week 11 by a significant margin. The next closest fine was $16,391 handed to Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker Alex Highsmith.
So what did St. Brown do that warranted such a huge payout? Well, on the surface, it looks like a pretty ordinary block that did not earn a flag on the play. Take a look:
St. Brown blocks Bears safety Jaquan Brisker, and you can tell by the way the defender’s head whips back that there is helmet-to-helmet contact. You can see it a little clearer from the endzone angle:
These are the types of blocks the NFL is really trying to cut down on, hence the large fine amounts. In fact, by looking at the NFL’s bylaws, we can conclude that this is actually the second offense for St. Brown. An “impermissible use of the helmet/launching” costs $21,855 for a first offense and exactly $43,709 for the second offense. It’s unclear when St. Brown’s first offense came, as the NFL has only started making fines public in 2023, but he has not received any other fines this season.
St. Brown took to Twitter on Saturday afternoon to respond to the fine:
Whether he’s being sarcastic or not, he’s actually telling the truth. His salary this year is $940,000, as he is only in the third year of his rookie contract. And while in the long run, St. Brown is going to get paid and this will only be a drop in the bucket, it speaks to a larger point for players who will not get massive extensions and their entire careers may be played on cheap rookie deals. These types of fines are not insignificant to those players.
It raises an interesting conversation on whether these types of fines are too high or if they’re even effective at preventing helmet-to-helmet collisions.
Edit: Future Hall of Famer J.J. Watt has some commentary on this situation.
Here we go again…
General rule of thumb:
If you have to watch the video multiple times to try figuring out which person did something wrong and you still can’t figure it out, we probably shouldn’t be taking $43,709 from someone.
This. Is. Stealing. Money.
— JJ Watt (@JJWatt) November 26, 2023