Packers starting middle linebacker Nick Barnett is under intense scrutiny by the league offices this week. In the first two games of the 2008 season, Barnett has already racked up three fines, although one, stemming from an off-the-field altercation is not game-related. The other two, however, are.
The first one came in the Packers Monday Night Football triumph over the Minnesota Vikings, when Barnett horse-collared a Vikings player. That total came to $7,500. Then, against the Detroit Lions last Sunday, Barnett was fined for a shoulder-to-helmet hit on Lions quarterback Jon Kitna. That fine came to $7,500 as well. Barnett had this to say:
“Why would I be fined?” Barnett answered when asked about the possible fine on Wednesday. “He was out of the pocket. He was a running back. How are you supposed to tackle the guy?”
I have to partly agree with Barnett here. Since when have “shoulder-to-helmet” hits been subject to penalty? That definitely has to be incidental contact. When you tackle, aren’t you supposed to lead with your shoulders? Exactly. That was probably an unavoidable hit on Kitna.
On the other hand, Barnett needs to watch himself. Roger Goodell and the NFL haven’t reverted to an NBA-esque-dictatorship with players and coaches being fined for opening their mouths in criticism. I’m not sure that Goodell won’t change that soon.
The important part is that Barnett will definitely be on the field Sunday night.