There is a reason the NFL is often colloquially referred to as the "No Fun League." Roger "He's Doing It Again" Goodell takes every offseason as a chance to party down with the trolls in his inner circle to further mess with the game of football. Our words may be harsh, but with new regulations passed during the 2014 offseason, flags seem to be thrown on nearly every play now. Most recently a flag was thrown in the Cowboys and Lions game, after which the refs had a brief convention on the field, picked each others noses for a minute, giggled, and then picked up the flag.
It would be wrong to pin too many of the blunders this season on the officials, because it wasn't the refs who made EVERYTHING a penalty. They seem overwhelmed, trying to implement Goodell's nonsensical orders while still keeping the game watchable. Along with the small penalties that only result in loss of yardage etc, there is a list of infractions which can lose a player a minuscule fraction of their pay. Rumor has it that in the 2015 season players will be fined $10,000 for high fives and that running out of bounds will be met with a five yard penalty and a spanking. Forgive the extrapolation but there is no question that the amount of penalties being tossed out in 2014 was over the top and somebody needs to hog-tie Roger Goodell and leave him in a closet for some time while someone else undoes most of what he has done.
With regard to those penalties that draw fines, this article will detail the top 15 players in the NFL who lost money to fines in 2014. It will cover the preseason and regular season and money lost to suspensions will not be considered for this article, just fines. All monetary values for fines is from spotrac.com.
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15 Eugene Sims: $24,805
The St. Louis Rams' defensive lineman received two fines over the course of the 2014 season. Both came in the second half of the season for the veteran from Texas A&M, as he was flagged for a late hit in week nine and for roughing the passer in week 16. In week nine the Rams played the 49ers and Sims dropped running back Carlos Hyde a bit late on a play. In the second last week of the season, he landed a decent hit on Eli Manning, earning him his roughing the passer penalty.
14 T13. Vontaze Burfict: $25,000
2013's top tackler has a reputation for not always being the most respectful player on the field. In one of the most unsportsmanlike events of the season, back in October, he was caught trying to twist the ankles of Greg Olsen and Cam Newton during his Bengals' game against the Panthers. Apparently he was channeling his inner Ken Shamrock. He was fined $25,000 for the incident.
13 T13. Damontre Moore: $25,000
December 2014 was an eventful month for the New York Giants' 22 year old defensive end. Moore was involved in the Giants' fight with the St. Louis Rams late in December. Two weeks prior to that incident, when the Giants played the Tennessee Titans, Moore was issued a fine for a big hit on quarterback Zach Mettenberger. The two incidents got him fines for 15K and 1K respectively.
12 William Hayes: $26,537
Continuing the trend for the start of this article, Hayes, a seventh year defensive end for the Rams, was also involved in the fight that happened in week 16 between his defense and the Giants. He was fined $10,000 for that incident and $16,537 earlier in the season when he took down Colin Kaepernick with a horse-collar tackle. Williams Hayes was initially drafted by the Tennessee Titans in the fourth round.
11 Seyi Ajirotutu: $27,562
The San Diego Chargers' receiver and special teams stand-out was fined just once in 2014. Ajirotutu received his hefty fine back in early November when the Chargers were facing Miami. He made contact with an official, and in addition to the fine he was ejected from the game. In that week, the Chargers lost 37-0 by the Miami Dolphins. He said that it was the first time he had been ejected in his entire life.
10 Erik Walden: $27,652
While his record has not been nearly spotless (on or off the field) Walden seems to have become more aggressive since being picked up by the Colts. In 2013 there was his infamous incident where he headbutted Delanie Walker. In 2014, he became the 10th highest fined player by brushing away an official's arm while in an altercation with Jermaine Gresham of the Cincinnati Bengals. He referred to the call as nonsense, but in the NFL you can't touch an official, it's a very basic rule.
9 T8. Chase Coffman: $30,000
It's safe to call Chase Coffman a slight NFL disappointment. He was thought to be one of the best tight ends in the country back in college but it hasn't translated to anything since his draft year in 2010. His most notable play in 2014 was the one that landed him a $30,000 fine. Playing for the Titans, he was on the field for a Zach Mettenberger interception and after running out of bounds, he plowed over a Baltimore Ravens' assistant coach, Tony Coaxum. It was called the cheap shot of the year by a couple of ESPN analysts.
8 T8. Jimmy Graham: $30,000
The highest paid tight end in the league sure had enough money to spare this season for shenanigans. Do you recall the "Jimmy Graham Rule" handed down in the offseason that dictated that league property could not be used for celebrations (eliminating dunking through the uprights)? Jimmy sure did, but Jimmy also didn't care. He dunked through the goal posts in a preseason game against the Tennessee Titans and was subsequently fined $30,000 for unsportsmanlike conduct.
7 Sam Barrington: $33,074
Partially due to the slight decline of A.J. Hawk as the Packers' main man at inside linebacker, Sam Barrington, the seventh round pick from 2013, saw an increase in field time around the end of this regular season. In weeks 15 and 17 he earned twin $16,537 penalties for a horse collar tackle and roughing the passer. His second was the most memorable of the two, as he took a shot at Matthew Stafford when the Packers took on the Lions in week 17.
6 T5. Linval Joseph: $36,537
Defensive tackle Linval Joseph signed a $31.25 million deal with the Minnesota Vikings prior to the start of the 2014 season, so his fine is pretty insignificant. Well done Mr. Goodell, you sure showed him! Joseph received two fines for roughing the passer in 2014. The first came against the Redskins at the start of November, and the second came on November 28th when he was penalized for a hit on Aaron Rodgers. If there was a quarterback most defensive linemen wanted to rough up this year, it was Rodgers. More on that later...
5 T5. James Ihedigbo: $36,537
The Lions' 31 year old safety earned himself three fines in 2014. He had a good year overall and fit into the Lions' system well. He has never had the reputation of being a bad guy but has always been a hard hitting safety. 2014 saw him earn a facemask penalty for a blatant foul against the Dolphins after he caught an interception. His late hit earned him a $10,000 fine after he took out Roddy White and his first fine of the season was his largest; $16,537 for a big hit on Geno Smith in early October.
4 Courtney Upshaw: $46,537
The Baltimore Ravens' third year linebacker has a special grudge against quarterbacks (or maybe just one quarterback). He was fined for three separate roughing the passer incidents in 2014. Two of these were against Ben Roethlisberger. His last occurred after manhandling Connor Shaw, the third quarterback choice for the Browns, in December. In each of the two games in which the Ravens played the Steelers, Upshaw hit Big Ben and took a fine for it.
3 Ray Rice: $58,823
It is due to a technicality that Ray Rice is on this list. We did indicate that there would be no suspensions on here, but prior to Rice's suspension and release, he was fined for being involved in his altercation. The NFL's biggest pariah, Rice may have lost more than money this year, as he may have lost his chance to ever play football again. It's debatable whether he should be allowed. He did something that almost everyone in society considers abhorrent, but at the same time there are arguments in favor of rehabilitation through counselling, learning from one's mistakes, coming back a better man, and so on. It's doubtful because his 2013 year was brutal and NFL teams are becoming increasingly wary of signing discipline cases.
2 Ndamukong Suh: $70,000
He really isn't such a bad guy once you learn how to spell his first name. Just kidding, he is probably the most abrasive football player in the game today. At the same time, he is one of the best defensive linemen in the league. There is something to be said for anger and aggression, but all too often, the Lions' big fella lets his fury get the best of him. Throughout his career he has been fined more than $400,000. His only offense in 2014 was his notorious Aaron Rodgers incident when he stepped on the Packers' quarterback's injured leg. The penalty originally got him suspended but after an appeal he was just handed a large fine. The Lions still lost in the Wild Card round.
1 Marshawn Lynch: $111,050
Beast Mode has been known since last season for not being a huge fan of the NFL's relationship with the media. He's "all about that action" and just wants to play. Unfortunately, the NFL demands that he talk to the media. He did not back in November, and received two $50,000 fines, one for his actions in 2014 and one for another incident in 2013. He followed up these fines with a couple of memorable interviews in which reporters asked him questions, to which he responded with "yeah" one week and "thanks for asking" or similar variants the week after.
He topped the year off with an $11,050 fine for his "backward dive" into the endzone after he second best rush of all time. "Backward dive" is in quotation marks because it is widely believed that the fine was for grabbing himself while diving into the endzone.
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