In response to the pledge from Ray Lewis that he would pay half of San Francisco 49ers linebacker Ahmad Brooks’ $16,000 fine for his hit on New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees, the NFL had come out with a statement from spokesman Greg Aiello.
From Aiello: “NFL will not stop Ray Lewis from paying Ahmad Brooks fine.”
This may seem like a nothing issue, but Lewis’s role with ESPN makes the situation a little more interesting. On the one hand, this seems pretty simple given that it is Lewis’s money and he can do what he wants with it. The opposing viewpoint is that a representative of the media and of ESPN is paying for a player’s fine.
This could be an isolated incident and be the end of it, but what would happen if media outlets started paying fines for players? This could be perceived as an inducement for a player to play for a particular team, but the issue of safety comes into play as it has so often in recent years.
A media outlet offers to pay for fines of players for violent hits. The media outlet could be doing so with the intent of continuing to have those occur. In essence, by paying this fines, they are telling that player to keep up those violent hits, which also happen to be extremely attractive for a certain percentage of viewers. Basically, it becomes a bounty gate type situation in reverse. Rather than paying someone to injure someone, they are having that financial penalty removed.
There are plenty of defensive players who see those types of hits as a way to raise their popularity and visibility so they can make more money in their careers. Provided the plays are not dirty, big hitters tend to get more attention and more money when it comes to contract negotiations.
This could ultimately be a nothing issue, but it does appear to open the door for this type of thing to happen on the free market. This is a practice that could already happen and just not be public, but it makes for an interesting dynamic when a member of the media is offering to pay a player’s fine.