Chargers SS Hit With Big Fine

Rodney Harrison (37) moves in to make a tackle.
San Diego Chargers strong safety Rodney Harrison was fined $40,000 by the NFL on Thursday one of the biggest in league history for his helmet-to-helmet hit on Oakland Raiders tight end Jeremy Brigham on Sunday night.

A defiant Harrison, one of the NFL's hardest hitters, said he feels he's being singled out by the league. It was the seventh time he's been disciplined, and he wondered why the amount more than quadrupled since his last fine, $7,500 for a hit on New Orleans quarterback Jeff Blake on Sept. 10.

"It's kind of ridiculous. I'm laughing at it, to be honest with you," Harrison said.

He plans to appeal.

While the NFL took umbrage, Harrison's teammate, Pro Bowl linebacker Junior Seau, called it "an entertaining hit."

Harrison was fined because of the helmet-to-helmet contact and because Brigham was in a defenseless position, NFL spokeswoman Leslie Hammond said. The large dollar amount was also due, in part, because Harrison has been fined several times before, Hammond said.

Gene Washington, the NFL official who assesses fines, didn't immediately return a phone call seeking comment.

Harrison said Washington is trying to make an example of him, "but it's not working on me."

What angers him more than the fine, Harrison said, is "the way they're trying to control a violent sport. But it's hard to control a violent sport because these athletes are bigger, they're stronger, they're faster."

Harrison said fans pay to see two things: scoring and hitting.

"And yet you have some guy in an office trying to control the violent part of it. That's one part of it I don't understand. It's so easy for them to sit up there and rewind the film 20, 30 times and say, `Oh, this was it.' "

"Gene Washington, he's not controlling me or anything I do. He can take the money, but I'm still straight."

The hit came midway through the first quarter of Oakland's 15-13 win at San Diego. After Rich Gannon's pass to Brigham sailed incomplete, Harrison hit the tight end and was flagged for a 15-yard personal foul.

"I don't even remember it, it was so weak," said Harrison, a unanimous Pro Bowl pick after the 1998 season. "That's football."

"It was sad that he got hit for 40 grand, but that was a great hit," Seau said. "I kind of got fired up after that.
"Rodney's a guy who loves to go and hunt down someone's head, and it's entertaining to us," Seau added. "Just as long as they don't use that hit to promote the game, that'll be fair. If that's the rules that they're going to set, then everyone can look at that film and learn something."

Last season, safety Mark Carrier, then with Detroit, was suspended for a game and fined $50,000 for a hit on Green Bay wide receiver Antonio Freeman. Minnesota Vikings receiver Randy Moss was fined $40,000 for squirting an official with a water bottle during last season's playoffs, but the fine was later reduced to $25,000.

Moss was fined another $25,000 on Thursday for making contact with an official Sunday in the Vikings' 41-13 loss to Tampa Bay.

In September 1993, Cardinals safety Chuck Cecil was fined $30,000 for two flagrant hits against the Washington Redskins.

It was Harrison's hit that knocked St. Louis Rams quarterback Trent Green out for the 1999 season with a knee injury in an exhibition game, opening the way for Kurt Warner. Although that hit enraged the Rams, Harrison was blocked into Green.

Harrison was, however, fined $15,000 by the NFL for hitting St. Louis receiver Isaac Bruce with his helmet twice in that game.

Harrison, a seven-year veteran, missed 10 games last year with a shoulder injury.

The Chargers, at 0-8 the NFL's only winless team, play at Seattle on Sunday.

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