On Sunday, San Francisco 49ers linebacker Ahmad Brooks was flagged for roughing the passer on what will probably go down as one of the most controversial calls of the 2013 NFL season.
While it probably won't make Brooks feel any better, former Ravens great Ray Lewis is prepared to soften the blow should the NFL add insult to injury with a fine.
Larry Brown Sports relayed the following from Lewis Monday night, who feels so strongly about this particular situation that he is willing to cover half of a potential fine:
The former two-time Super Bowl-winning linebacker took the league to task for calling a personal foul penalty on Brooks for his hit on Drew Brees. He called it the most embarrassing call in the league since the Tuck Rule and even offered to pay half the amount if Brooks is fined.
“This is the most embarrassing call in the National Football League since the Tuck Rule and Tom Brady,” Lewis said on ESPN’s “Monday Night Countdown” before the Carolina Panthers-New England Patriots game. “I’m serious. I’ve just never seen this type of insult to defenders.
“When you do your job, when you make the perfect play, if he takes the same hit and hits a quarterback like Peyton Manning who’s 6’4″-6’5″, he hits him in his chest area … Drew Brees is 6-foot or shorter. When you look at the hit, Ahmad Brooks took the hit and hit him exactly where he’s supposed to hit him. Drew Brees’ neck slid down to that man’s arm. For that to be a flag is embarrassing.
Brooks was fined on Wednesday, according to ESPN's Adam Schefter:
49ers LB Ahmad Brooks was fined $15,750, the standard number based on fine schedule. Actually $250 less than $16k.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) November 20, 2013
Schefter also tweeted a quote from Lewis indicating he wasn't bluffing when he said he'd be willing to pay half of the fine:
ESPN analyst Ray Lewis: "I will see Ahmad on Monday and I will have a check in hand for half of the fine."— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) November 20, 2013
ESPN's Chris Mortensen says Brooks won't be accepting the offer:
Per @tunasweasel Ahmad Brooks is appealing his fine & has informed Ray Lewis & Tedy Bruschi he will not accept their money to help pay fine— Chris Mortensen (@mortreport) November 21, 2013
From CBS Sports' Will Brinson:
NFL spokesman @gregaiello: "We have no role in how Ray Lewis spends his money." NFL won't stop him from paying Brooks $8K— Will Brinson (@WillBrinson) November 20, 2013
For the uninitiated, Brooks broke through the New Orleans Saints offensive line late in the fourth quarter, sacking Drew Brees and forcing a fumble that the Niners would recover. With San Francisco leading 20-17 at the time, it seemed as though the game was all but over.
However, Brooks came into very close contact with Brees' neck and head area on the play, forcing the refs to throw the yellow hankey and extend New Orleans' drive. The Saints would proceed to march down the field to tie the game before eventually winning with a last-second field goal.
Here's a look at the play in question:
“I’m going full speed, he’s going full speed and at the last second he ducked his shoulder,” Brooks said after the game, via 49ers.com's Taylor Price. “I don’t know what I could have done differently.”
However, Pro Football Talk's Mike Florio reported that per a league source, it was the "absolutely correct call."
Whether or not Lewis is justified in labeling it the "most embarrassing call" since that infamous Patriots-Raiders game over a decade ago, considering the circumstances, it's understandable that he's upset.
As Florio points out, the rulebook prohibits contact to the neck area, but even with the replay, it's not easy to tell if he was in violation or not.
What should have been the result of the play?
On a bang-bang play like that in real time, it's a difficult call to make—and one that probably gets called close to half of the time.
As such, a fine would probably be going a little overboard, and one that really wouldn't be fair to Brooks.
Of course, with the way the NFL tends to hand out punishment in striving to uphold player safety, perhaps it's time to start a Kickstarter for the half Ray Lewis' American Express card won't be covering.