AJ Hawk and Clay Matthews Fined by NFL: Was It Right or Wrong?

Jim ColemanContributor IOctober 21, 2011

CHARLOTTE, NC - SEPTEMBER 18:   A.J. Hawk #50 of the Green Bay Packers during their game against the Carolina Panthers at Bank of America Stadium on September 18, 2011 in Charlotte, North Carolina.  (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

By now everyone has seen a picture or video of AJ Hawk flipping the bird after a sack last Sunday against the St. Louis Rams. The NFL came down on him, giving him a $10,000 fine.

Here are the facts—Hawk gave the finger to his own sideline after a sack. Naturally, a camera was on him because he just sacked Sam Bradford. There was no malicious intent because again, it was in the direction of his own sideline.

When he was asked about it after the game, he said that it was an inside joke with his teammates. He apologized and went as far as saying that he had a daughter and wouldn't want her to see that, and said it wouldn't happen again. Interestingly enough, the inside joke must have been pretty inside because Charles Woodson said, "I guess the joke's on me."

He had no idea what or who AJ was trying to do with that gesture. $10,000 seems fair for an inappropriate gesture that was relatively harmless, and is essentially half of what Mike Vick was fined when he gave heckling fans the finger.

What I don't quite understand is how Clay Matthews was fined half of that amount for wearing the wrong colored shoes the same game. AJ Hawk broke a societal rule, and did something that he himself acknowledged was wrong.

Matthews wore yellow shoes instead of dark brown which was apparently mandated for the throwback uniforms. Since when was wearing a the wrong color shoes half as bad as flipping the bird on national TV?

And beyond that, what message is the NFL sending allowing two head coaches to act like idiots after a game and refuse to fine them, but force Matthews to pay $5,000 for his yellow shoes?

Were these fines wrong or on point?