NFL News: Breaking Down Top Headlines from Around the League

Patrick Clarke@@_Pat_ClarkeCorrespondent ISeptember 23, 2013

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - FEBRUARY 05:  NFL commissioner Roger Goodell (L) chats with New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft on the field before the New England Patriots take on the New York Giants in Super Bowl XLVI at Lucas Oil Stadium on February 5, 2012 in Indianapolis, Indiana.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

It's certainly no secret that the NFL is cracking down on player safety in 2013. And following a slew of fines that were handed out over the past week, it looks as if the league is determined to change the way the sport is played. 

Good luck with that. 

The league has been handing out fines and making examples of "offenders" since opening week, per The Dallas Morning News' Rick Gosselin:

Below, we'll break down the top fine-related headlines and other important off-the-field news from around the league this past weekend.

Niners' Aldon Smith Out on Bail

SAN FRANCISCO, CA - SEPTEMBER 08:  Linebacker Aldon Smith #99 of the San Francisco 49ers looks on against the Green Bay Packers at Candlestick Park on September 8, 2013 in San Francisco, California.  (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)
Jeff Gross/Getty Images

San Francisco 49ers Pro Bowl linebacker Aldon Smith was released from jail at the start of the weekend following an early-morning arrest on Friday on suspicion of DUI and marijuana possession, according to authorities via ESPN.

The 23-year-old was arrested after police responded to a one-vehicle crash in San Jose. It was later discovered that Smith's truck struck a tree at around 7 a.m. local time. He was the only one in the vehicle and failed field sobriety tests shortly after officers arrived. 

Here's a look at the scene via NFL reporter Mike Wells on Twitter:

Smith posted $5,250 bail and was released hours later.

His court date is scheduled for Nov. 4, according to NFL Network reporter Ian Rapoport on Twitter:

The Niners will have a bye week during the first week of November and will return to action on Nov. 10 against the Carolina Panthers.

League Comes Down Hard on a Handful of Patriots, Jets Players

Sep 12, 2013; Foxboro, MA, USA; New England Patriots guard Logan Mankins (70) and defensive end Rob Ninkovich (50) fight with New York Jets guard Willie Colon (66) in the fourth quarter at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: William Perlman/THE STAR-LEDGE
The Star-Ledger-USA TODAY Sports

The NFL announced a plethora of fines on Friday stemming from the sideline melee at the end of the Jets-Patriots game on Sept. 12, according to ESPN.

Three New England Patriots players and two New York Jets players were fined for the incident. Jets guard Willie Colon received most of the $72,000 in fines handed out by the league. The veteran offensive lineman received a total of $34,125 in fines for "physical contact with an official" and punching an opposing player.

D'Brickashaw Ferguson was also slapped with a $15,000 fine for hitting a Pats player.

FOXBORO, MA - SEPTEMBER 12: Dont'a Hightower #54 of the New England Patriots confronts D'Brickashaw Ferguson #60 of the New York Jets after Ferguson shoved Aqib Talib #31 of the New England Patriots, who intercepted a pass, in the 4th quarter at Gillette
Jim Rogash/Getty Images

For the Patriots, Vince Wilfork, Alfonzo Dennard and Michael Buchanan were each hit with $7,875 fines for "unnecessary roughness" and escalating the incident. 

Oddly enough, Jets long-time center Nick Mangold was not fined by the league despite igniting the scuffle with a hit on Pats corner Aqib Talib.

Bears Legend Gale Sayers Sues the League

CHICAGO - SEPTEMBER 20: Hall of Fame Chicago Bears Dick Butkus (L) and Gale Sayers chat on the sidelines before a game between the Bears and the Pittsburgh Steelers on September 20, 2009 at Soldier Field in Chicago, Illinois. The Bears defeated the Steele
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

Former Chicago Bears running back Gale Sayers has brought a lawsuit against the NFL, claiming that the league failed to protect him from "devastating concussive head traumas," according to the Chicago Tribune's Ellen Jean Hirst.

According to the Hall of Famer's lawsuit, he's suffered headaches and short-term memory loss since his retirement many years ago.

Sayers is claiming "negligence" and "fraudulent misrepresentation" on the part of the NFL, accusing the league of not doing enough to warn him of the risks of playing with concussion symptoms.

It appears as if Sayers could have a difficult time winning his lawsuit, though. Just last month, the NFL reached a $765 million settlement with more than 4,500 former players in a very similar lawsuit. The league did not admit any wrongdoing but agreed to financially assist ex-players who are suffering from football-related brain injuries. 

The 70-year-old Sayers starred for the Bears in the 1960s and early 1970s. 

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