GREEN BAY, Wis. — Jermichael Finley watched the replay of him suffering a concussion in Week 3, but the Green Bay Packers’ tight end doesn’t agree with the NFL’s decision to fine the player who hit him.
Cincinnati Bengals safety George Iloka made contact with the head and neck area of a diving Finley, who then walked awkwardly a few steps before taking a knee and being assisted by the training staff. The NFL fined Iloka $15,000 for hitting a defenseless receiver.
“I thought it was a great hit,” Finley said. “I didn’t think it was dirty at all. That’s my opinion. If I was the safety, I’d do the same thing. It’s a part of the game.”
It’s certainly not uncommon for a player to defend the actions that led to his own fine, but for an opponent to speak out in support of the player whose hit caused a concussion is a lot more rare.
“I was a little surprised (that Iloka got fined), but you know how the league works and how they do their fines,” Finley said. “But I was surprised that he got hit (with a fine). I thought it was a clean hit.”
Finley missed the remainder of the game against the Bengals and was just medically cleared from the league’s concussion protocol Tuesday afternoon — nine days later, allowing him to return to practice Wednesday.
“It’s scary,” Finley said Wednesday in the locker room. “But at the end of the day, we signed up for it and it’s our job. That’s what we do for a living.”
In his website’s video, Finley said that when he looked to the sideline immediately after his concussion, “everybody was decapitated and my body was just on fire.” But Finley didn’t think it was the contact from Iloka that did the most damage.
“I don’t think it was the hit,” Finley said Wednesday. “The hit got my neck. I think the ground caused the concussion. I’ve been hit like that 1,000 times and got up fine.”
However, Finley wasn’t actually fine.
“After I got up, I was fine,” he said. “I can’t tell you my brain was fine, but my body was.”
Finley added that it took “a day or two” to get all of his senses back.
For Iloka, though, who’s a second-year player making $480,000 this season, he told reporters in Cincinnati last week that he “pretty much played for free” after receiving the $15,000 fine.
Perhaps Finley’s comments clearing Iloka of any wrongdoing will help Iloka’s appeal to the NFL.