GREEN BAY, Wis. — When Packers tight end Ryan Taylor found out last week that he was being fined $21,000 by the NFL for what it deemed to be an illegal block, the 24-year-old backup did not take the news well.
“I almost had a heart attack,” Taylor said Wednesday at his locker. “I was on the plane, and it was definitely a surprise.”
Taylor, a seventh-round pick in 2011, will make $465,000 this season. Once taxes are accounted for, this fine will likely reduce his take-home salary by nearly 8 percent.
“It’s a big hit to my pocketbook,” Taylor said. “I guess it comes with the territory.”
This is only the second time in his life Taylor has spent that much money in one day.
“I bought a car; that’s about it,” he said. “I didn’t really make a decision on that hit, though. I made a decision on the car. I don’t have much to show for that (hit).”
Taylor’s impactful block happened on a 28-yard punt return by Randall Cobb in Green Bay’s win over the Arizona Cardinals on Nov. 4. Taylor leveled Arizona’s Rashad Johnson near the sideline, sending the crowd into a loud roar, especially as replays continued to be shown on the Lambeau Field scoreboard.
The referees did not throw a flag on the play, but the NFL acted anyway.
“Their interpretation of the rules is not how I read it,” Taylor said. “I definitely thought it was a clean block. It was a total surprise to me when I got a phone call from my agent.”
The Packers were on a bye last week, so instead of Taylor receiving the customary letter of notice in the mail, the league told his agent, who then had to deliver the bad news to his client.
“Definitely not the way you want to start a vacation,” Taylor said.
Taylor did appeal the fine Tuesday, with the help of his agent, during a phone call with the league office.
“I hope it’ll be rescinded completely,” Taylor said. “I don’t know how realistic that is. They’ve obviously made a decision, so we’ll see what happens.”
Taylor’s fine was a hot topic during Green Bay’s practice. Though Taylor’s higher-salaried teammates aren’t allowed (by rules of the NFL’s salary cap system) to chip in to help pay it off, they were plenty curious about the league’s explanation to him.
“They were asking me about it because everybody was kind of surprised by it,” Taylor said. “It was what we felt was a clean play, not called, target-zone was in the right area. But, basically, the rule said it was the angle that I came from.
“I was under the assumption that if you had your head in front of their body, that it was clean. But I’ve learned now and moved on, I guess.”
Learned from it, yes, but not enough so that Taylor has any plans to change the way he blocks and tackles.
“I don’t think you can let it affect the way you play because the way I play has gotten me here,” Taylor said. “I’m not just going to change that just based on one hit.
“That guy had an angle on the ball. He would’ve made the tackle had I not blocked him. I’m not just going to stop blocking guys that can make tackles on our ball carrier because of arbitrary rules.”
Taylor will find out within four weeks whether the league decides to show any mercy. But as quarterback Aaron Rodgers noted, being fined $21,000 wasn’t the only bad part of Taylor’s recent few days.
“He’s had a rough week,” Rodgers said. “He’s sensitive about the fine. He just got passed up for most receptions in North Carolina tight end history. He wasn’t put on the special wall of courage at North Carolina either, so he’s been taking some shots this week.