Patrick Ricard’s wallet could soon be $21,694 lighter.
That’s the amount the Ravens’ veteran fullback was fined for unnecessary roughness two weeks ago for seemingly routinely blocking Cardinals middle linebacker Kyzir White as he helped clear the way up the middle for to clear a 5-yard run by Gus Edwards near the Arizona goal line in the second quarter.
It’s also, in his opinion, the “cost of doing business” in the NFL these days, although he’s not happy about it.
“I try to make my blocks. “We’re at the 5-yard line,” Ricard said Sunday after the Ravens’ win over the Seahawks. “I’m going to do everything I can to make sure my guy doesn’t make the play and I push him back. If my head interferes, it interferes.”
Ricard said he is appealing the fine. His case will be assigned to one of the league’s two appeals officers, former linebacker Derrick Brooks or former wide receiver James Thrash, who will hear both sides before making a final decision.
He’s not the only Ravens player fined this season. Baltimore is tied with the Buffalo Bills for the second-most penalties due to on-field actions in the league with 13. The Pittsburgh Steelers have the most penalties with 19. And Baltimore’s list does not include $10,000 uniform value receiver Rashod Bateman, who said he was awarded for wearing customized cleats with a Batman logo and his last name on the side of the shoe.
“It was crazy,” Bateman said. “I had no idea. It’s a little lame, but it is what it is.”
On Wednesday, NFL Players Association president and former Cleveland Browns center JC Tretter said that “players and fans are increasingly frustrated with the way fines are being implemented on the field.”
“If eliminating dangerous games is the overall goal, then the current system we have in place will not fully achieve that goal,” Tretter wrote in an article posted on the NFLPA website.
To that end, Bateman was also fined $16,391 for being unnecessarily rough toward Bengals cornerback Cam Taylor-Britt during a Week 2 game in Cincinnati. Bateman was cited for an illegal blindside block on the fourth-quarter play, although only six of the fines levied against Baltimore players this season came on plays in which a penalty was called.
“I don’t plan on getting any more [fines], but the NFL is kind of softening,” Bateman said. “You never know what you’re going to get fined for.”
Some were apparently fined. For example, Ravens safety was Kyle Hamilton ejected for a helmet-to-helmet hit about Tennessee Titans wide receiver Chris Moore during their Week 6 game in London.
It was a costly weekend for his teammates and other players around the league, as the season-high 36 penalties were assessed in the entire NFL. Five of those went to four Ravens players, including two to receiver Odell Beckham Jr got into an altercation with Titans defensive lineman Jeffrey Simmons also during and after the game, with Beckham saying that Simmons went after fellow receiver Zay Flowers’ legs at the end of a particular play.
“I just didn’t like it. “I’m protective,” Beckham said afterwards. “That’s my type. This is my little brother. Love him to death. I will always have his back, period. If that gets me in trouble, then it is what it is.”
So far this season, Beckham and defensive tackle Justin Madubuike have each received a team-high three penalties. One of Madubuike’s players also came to London and was fined $16,391 for unnecessary roughness late in the third quarter, even though there was no penalty for the play. Michael Pierce, a fellow defensive lineman, received the same penalty for committing a passer penalty on quarterback Ryan Tannehill early in the third.
The other Baltimore player fined in the game was left tackle Ronnie Stanley, who was fined $16,391 for a hard collision with Simmons. Like Ricard, he is appealing the fine and is waiting to hear from the league.
In total, 10 Ravens have issued fines totaling $229,937, with Beckham’s two $21,844 penalties imposing the harshest single penalty.
“There’s definitely frustration,” Stanley said. “I think the boys think the game has become a bit sloppy in that regard. But we just have to stick to the current rules and do our best. But we’re not going to stop playing Raven football, we’re just going to play physical.”
Ravens coach John Harbaugh has occasionally said he would call the league about his players talking about the fines levied against them.
“We train these things, so we want to understand how the league sees it,” he said. “[We] Also understand that there is a process that looks at this, so it’s not just one-sided. It’s not like the NCAA where there’s just a judge, a jury and an executioner. It’s the NFL, and there’s a players’ association that has the opportunity to provide some fairness, which is good; it should be so. So they’ll appeal these fines, and a decision will be made, and then it’ll move on. That’s just how it works. This is collective bargaining, and it actually works very well.”
Although the NFL declined to comment when contacted by The Baltimore Sun, its operations page notes that 236 fines were issued for 18,745 games this season, representing 1.26% of all games.
Tretter acknowledged that the union could do a better job of informing players about their rights, noting that 12% of the roughly 460 fines last season were not appealed. For example, first-time offenders can watch a five-minute instructional video at the end of each season to automatically receive a 25% reduction in their on-field fine.
Once a player is fined or loses the appeal, the amount will be withheld from the next match check. The fines are then collected and donated to the Washington-based Professional Athletes Foundation, which supports athletes and former players in a variety of ways, including mental, physical and financial well-being, and to the NFL Foundation, which functions as the league’s “further health support.” , safety and well-being of athletes at all levels of sports.” According to the NFL, it has generated approximately $4 million annually since 2011.
Still, Ricard’s fine in particular drew the ire of several current and former players, including JJ Watt.
“This is stealing money from the boys,” tweeted Watt, a three-time NFL Defensive Player of the Year who played for the Houston Texans and Cardinals. “These absurd fines for routine football matches must stop. Fines for intentionally malicious moves? Absolutely. Taking $21,694 from a guy for that?! What do we do. This is out of control.”
Ricard, of course, agrees.
“I honestly think it’s pretty ridiculous, especially the amount of the fine they’re giving me,” he said. “I have been doing this for seven years at the highest level of my position. I’ve never been punished for it. It’s hard to believe that a fine would be imposed for this.”