Safety Brandon Meriweather, who got slapped with a $50,000 fine this week for his helmet-to-helmet hit on Ravens tight end Todd Heap this past weekend, addressed the situation Wednesday for the first -- and probably the last -- time since the aforementioned play.
"To start off I want to say once again I'm going to say I'm sorry for the hit. I understand the league is trying to protect the health of all our players but ... I don't even know how to put it but to be honest I just want all of this to go away," Meriweather said.
"I want to focus, with the rest of my team, on the Chargers, really not let this come up again. I'm going to try my best to play within the rules, like my coach had always taught us, I'm going to hit and play the game like my coaches have always taught us. Even in training camp, we have always been taught the proper way to hit and I'm just going to focus on that and put it in my game in some way, shape, form or fashion, and from here on, I'm focusing on the Chargers. Anything else spoken on this, I will not comment on."
That does it; as Meriweather said, the Patriots want to focus on this weekend's opponent, the San Diego Chargers, who always pose a threat despite their surprising 2-4 start, but players both in and out of New England's locker room are chiming in on the recent fines stemming from a particular violent weekend.
As quarterback Tom Brady said, "They make rules (and) we've got to follow them.
"To tell you the truth, I didn't see the play and I still haven't seen the play," Brady added. "It's a dangerous game, it really is, and I think we all signed up for this game knowing that it's dangerous. I know Rodney Harrison did, too. I heard some of Rodney's comment about the style of play ... nobody wants to see anybody get hurt. That's not why we play the game. We also know that the physical nature of the sport; people do get hurt."
Steelers linebacker James Harrison, who got hit with a similar fine this week, said he's actually contemplating whether or not he'll continue playing football if the league follows through on its promise to crack down on helmet-to-helmet hits.
While that may be extreme, Patriots nose tackle Vince Wilfork said he's not surprised by the league's stance, nor is he surprised by the number of fines dished out this week in the aftermath of such a rough weekend.
"From a guy who has been fined himself, I can put myself in (Meriweather's) shoes and just tell him, 'Put one foot forward and keep it going. You're a professional, handle it in a professional manner and go on about your business,'" Wilfork said.
"That's one thing that he's going to have to do, and only Brandon can do that. He (will) always have people he can come talk to, especially from a fine level. He can always come find me and talk about how things go and the mindset and everything but he'll be OK. He's just got to get through this. Now eyes are watching him. As a defender, we have to find a way to not make plays like that. That's something that he's going to have to alter in his game and hopefully he can."
Whether the threat of discipline hinders the Patriots' aggressiveness remains to be seen, but that would be a dangerous approach on the road against a Chargers' team coming off back-to-back losses. Right now, San Diego is the proverbial wounded animal, and the Patriots know they can't afford to back off, particularly since their aggression on defense is what changed the momentum in last week's come-from-behind win against Baltimore. Not only that, the Chargers are perennial slow starters, and midseason is quickly approaching.
"This is about where they hit stride and it's very concerning, based on what their track record has been," Patriots head coach Bill Belichick said. "I think when you watch this team, you'll see a lot of good football players. Pretty much everybody on the field, offensively, is dangerous no matter who gets the ball or where they get it."
SERIES HISTORY: 35th regular-season meeting. Patriots lead series, 18-14-2. They lost at San Diego two years ago in the last regular-season meeting between the two teams. The last time they played at Gillette Stadium, the Patriots won, 20-12, in the 2007 AFC Championship. Since the Chargers moved from Los Angeles to San Diego, the Patriots are 8-7-1 against the Chargers on the road.
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