Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Hines Ward was fined $50,000 today by the NFL for delivering a hard high-five to the right hand of quarterback Ben Roethlisberger on Sunday moments after the duo connected on a 29-yard pass during the first quarter.
No penalty was called on Ward by the game officials, but NFL commissioner Roger Goodell ruled that WardÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s hit on Roethlisberger was excessive.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Not only did he hit him too hard Ã¢â‚¬â€œ no doubt Ben had a bit of stinging in his palm and maybe even fingers for a few seconds,Ã¢â‚¬Â said Goodell. Ã¢â‚¬Å“But the brutal high-five came well after the whistle blew and the play was over. That is unacceptable.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Ward says he strongly disagrees with the commissionerÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s decision to fine him.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“ThatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s just how I play the game. Always have, always will,Ã¢â‚¬Â said Ward. Ã¢â‚¬Å“Ben made a great pass, we got the first down and we were both excited about it. There was nothing malicious about my high-five. I could have just nodded to him or have done one of those swing-and-miss Tiger Woods high fives, but thatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s not my style.Ã¢â‚¬Â
The Steelers receiver says he wonÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t appeal the fine, however.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“The last time I appealed a fine we faxed in our appeal to the league office and five minutes later we got an angry call from Roger Goodell,Ã¢â‚¬Â said Ward. Ã¢â‚¬Å“He said that we caused a paper to suddenly shoot out of their fax machine, risking serious paper cut harm to everyone in the office. And then he upped my fine by $5,000.Ã¢â‚¬Â
While Ward and other players around the league say Goodell is trying to take the physicality and fun out of the sport, the commissioner denies those charges.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“I am merely trying to make the game safer for our players. I would think they would welcome that,Ã¢â‚¬Â he said. Ã¢â‚¬Å“A high-five may look harmless, but whatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s next Ã¢â‚¬â€œ a congratulatory slap to the helmet? I shudder to think. And we really must protect the quarterbacks who are often defenseless. For example, Roethlisberger scrambled a few weeks ago and slid to the ground to avoid a hit. But he still was jarred pretty hard by the ground when sliding. So I am working with legal to see if thereÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s a way I can fine the ground.Ã¢â‚¬Â