For the third year in a row, the Lions’ Thanksgiving game was marred by an action that resulted in a hefty fine.
For the first year, it was neither an assault against another player, nor was it attributed to Ndamukong Suh or any other Lions player.
Instead, Packers cornerback Tramon Williams was fined $26,250 for making contact with an official on Thanksgiving. It’s easy to attribute Williams’ actions to a combination of frustration and confusion. The Packers were down big at the time, and Williams claims he thought he was shoving a Lions player after the touchdown, not an official.
Because that’s better, I guess.
Williams is also on record as saying he hopes the league “gives [him] some money back” on account of it being a misunderstanding. It will be interesting to see whether he gets that benefit of the doubt, but it’s unlikely. A similar thing happened to Brandon Pettigrew in a 2011 game at New Orleans, and intent didn’t seem to be a driving factor there.
If anything, Williams is lucky for the way things turned out. Vikings cornerback Chris Cook was flagged and ejected from the game against the Bears just a few days later for the exact same thing. Officials are completely within their rights to toss players who make any sort of contact with them after a play.
Depending on the egregiousness of the act, even suspensions can come from contact with an official. Williams’ action wasn’t deserving of a suspension, but it’s worth asking why it wasn’t deserving of an ejection.
Incidentally, the act also hasn’t been at the forefront of NFL news for the week following the game. Nobody is talking about how they wouldn’t want Tramon Williams on their team. And rightfully so; this is how the NFL and media should react to actions with this much doubt about intent.
It’s just too bad that discretion doesn’t carry over to all players and situations.
UPDATE (3:00 PM 12/06/13): I had initially thought that the Lions went a week without getting smacked with a fine by the NFL, but apparently I was wrong.
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) December 6, 2013
Time to dig into the archives to see what play this was.
UPDATE (3:15 PM 12/06/13):
It looks like I may have jumped the gun on this entire piece.
Fines from the GB game. Williams $26,250 for contact with game official, Levy $15,750, Matthews $15,750, Durham $7,875 and Quin $7,875.
— Justin Rogers (@Justin_Rogers) December 6, 2013
What appeared to be a relatively clean game was apparently a veritable smorgasbord for expensive infractions. Aside from the play in which Williams made contact with an official (and was rightfully flagged for it), I’m not immediately sure what plays in question resulted in these fines.
But as long as we’re talking about fines related to Kris Durham, I feel it necessary to bring this back up.
Any insights you have are welcome in the comments while I go try to figure out what the NFL is thinking about this week.
Fine totals through Week 13:
Ndamukong Suh — 3 fines/$139,375
Rest of Detroit Lions — 13 fines/$143,875
Detroit Lions Opponents — 4 fines/$65,625
It’s worth noting that Lions linebacker Travis Lewis has been suspended for the final four games of the regular season for the use of PEDs. He has already admitted to and apologized for the action, so there is unlikely to be any drama there.
Lewis isn’t being fined for the act in the usual sense, but his loss of four game checks adds up to $112,941 according to Spotrac.com.
More importantly, the sparsely-used Lewis might see this mark the end of his career as a Lion, if not in general. The Lions were only using Lewis as a special teamer, and the former seventh-round pick hasn’t yet shown the propensity to grow into a long-term role. This suspension is just another mark against him.