Harrison Smith never has been a fan of the system the NFL uses to fine players for breaking its on-field code of conduct.
"They should be totally transparent on the total amount of money they've taken from defensive players compared to offensive players over the last 10, 15 years," said the Vikings' 12-year veteran safety.
Well, Harry, the league isn't looking backward, but it is being transparent going forward. As part of the league's new gameday accountability initiative, the NFL has begun announcing every gameday infraction and corresponding fine levied each week. Previously, the league would only confirm a fine if reporters asked about a specific play.
The latest data includes the first two games of this season. According to the NFL, there were 67 fines out of 4,959 plays (1.35%).
And sorry, Harry, but, yes — defenders are leading the way with 62.7% of the fines (42-25).
"I don't really remember how many times I've been fined in my career," said Smith, who has none this season. "I've been fined so many times, I lost track."
The only Vikings fined through two weeks were defensive lineman Dean Lowry and linebacker Troy Dye, both for unnecessary roughness. Lowry was fined $10,927 for a facemask that was flagged in Week 1 against the Buccaneers. Dye was fined $6,554 for an infraction — using the crown of his helmet to hit Eagles punt returner Britain Covey's helmet — that was not penalized during the Week 2 game.
"I've appealed mine, and I'm waiting to hear," Lowry said. "This is the first facemask I've had in my eight years. I don't think it was an issue of intent or aggression. I think it was a fundamentals and technique issue. I hope the NFL sees it that way. Eleven grand is a lot of money for anybody."
Lowry said his pad level was too high on the play. One reason for that: Bucs tight end Ko Kieft had him locked in a bear hug that wasn't called.
"Yeah," Lowry said. "I didn't want to point fingers during my appeal, but I think maybe holding could have been called first. Either way, I was reaching back for the ball and inadvertently grabbed [Rachaad White's] facemask and let go right away."
Smith objects to what he considers a double standard for offensive and defensive players when it comes to certain rules like helmet-to-helmet contact and facemasking.
"Obviously, if the facemask is egregious, like the two [Browns quarterback] Deshaun Watson had against Pittsburgh, they call it," Smith said. "But, basically, they can facemask us on every play as long as they don't grab it. But if we graze theirs, that's a penalty and a 10- , 15-grand fine."
Speaking of Watson and that Browns-Steelers Week 2 game, the NFL doled out 10 fines to eight players totaling $208,782.
Watson was fined $35,513 for three infractions — two for unnecessary roughness (facemask) at $10,927 a pop and one for unsportsmanlike conduct for a gun-themed celebration ($13,659).
Then there's poor Jaylen Warren, a Steelers running back making $48,333 a game in the second year of his rookie deal. He was fined $48,333 — his entire game check! — for illegal use of his helmet when he lowered it to strike an opponent.
The NFL is quick to remind players that the on-field code of conduct is part of the collective bargaining agreement between the league and the NFL Players Association. The fine schedule is posted on page 22 of the player manual.
The league also points out that appeals are assigned to one of two appeals officers — Derrick Brooks or James Thrash — who are appointed jointly by the league and the players association. All fines collected go toward helping retired players in need. Since 2011, about $4 million a year has been collected.
Smith said his most expensive fine was $24,000 for what he admits was an illegal hit over the middle in a preseason game his rookie year.
"That year, I had two that were on bang-bang plays that I appealed," he said. "They weren't rescinded or lowered.
"But the thing I find funny is another time, I decided to wear tights that I knew were not allowed. They fined me $5,000 and lowered it to $2,000 after I appealed. So on the bang-bang plays where there's no time to make a decision, those aren't rescinded or lowered. But the time I made a conscious decision to break a rule, that got lowered. Doesn't make sense."