Bears rookie linebacker Jon Bostic has been fined $21,000 for his crushing hit on San Diego Chargers wide receiver Mike Willie, an NFL source confirmed.
Bears linebacker Lance Briggs broke the news on his Twitter account Wednesday morning. ‘‘Shaking my head moment. Nfl fines jon bostic 21k for his clean hit against the chargers.’’ Briggs tweeted.
Bostic made the devastating hit after Willie had caught a short pass from backup quarterback Charlie Whitehurst in the third quarter of the Bears’ 33-28 victory over the Chargers at Soldier Field. The hit caused Willie to lose possession of the ball and it was ruled an incomplete pass, though some thought it could have been a fumble.
Because Bostic appeared to catch Willie with the crown of his helmet, it looked like a borderline illegal hit at the least. Bostic said after the game he thought the hit was clean and was not worried about a fine. By the NFL’s more stringent rules on using the crown of the helmet to make contact, the fine is not surprising. But the play and fine also illustrate the difficulty the NFL is having with instituting tougher rules on safety. It’s more than likely that Bostic would make the same hit tomorrow. Known as a big hitter at Florida, that’s what he gets paid to do.
That apparently was what irked Briggs. The Bears veteran linebacker later Tweeted: “Bostic’s hit illegal. Hit on dustin keller. Legal.”
Briggs was referring to Houston Texans rookie safety D.J. Swearinger’s tackle on Miami Dolphins tight end Dustin Keller in which Keller suffered a season-ending knee injury. It’s yet another example of how defenders can’t win.
‘‘With the rules in this era you’ve got to hit low,’’ Swearinger told reporters. ‘‘If I would have hit him high, I would have gotten a fine. So I think I made the smartest play. I’m sorry it happened and I pray he has a speedy recovery. Right now it’s just instinct. You see somebody come across the middle, you gotta go low. You’re going to cost your team 15 yards. You’ve got to p lay within the rules.’’
Bostic can appeal the fine. Bostic, the Bears’ second-round draft pick, signed a four-year, $3.9 million contract, with $2.2 million guaranteed; his base salary is $405,000 a year.