NFL hits Browns safety T.J. Ward with fine
T.J. Ward’s ”cheap shot” was costly.
For delivering a nasty blow to an opponent’s head, the NFL
belted the Browns’ rookie safety in the wallet.
Ward, who in just four games as a pro has developed a reputation
as a ferocious tackler and fearless talker, was fined $15,000
Wednesday for his helmet-to-helmet hit on Cincinnati wide receiver
Jordan Shipley during the fourth quarter of the Browns’ win on
Ward confirmed he was fined, but he would not divulge the
amount. However, a person familiar with the situation told The
Associated Press that the league assessed Ward the $15,000 penalty
for ramming Shipley, who was knocked out briefly and sustained a
The league will not announce its discipline on Ward until
A split-second after Shipley failed to catch a pass from Bengals
quarterback Carson Palmer in the end zone, Ward unloaded on the
rookie wideout, sending him sprawling to the turf. Ward claims he
led with his right shoulder, but TV replays clearly show him making
contact with Shipley’s helmet.
”I just tried to make a play and unfortunately he got hurt,”
Ward said before practice. ”It’s part of the violent game we play.
If you play that position, it kind of comes with the
The Bengals weren’t pleased and following the game, both Palmer
and wide receiver Terrell Owens accused Ward of a dirty play.
”I just hate to see a guy get hit like that in the head,”
Owens said. ”For him to take a cheap shot like that, that’s
Browns coach Eric Mangini defended Ward, saying it was an
aggressive play – nothing more.
Owens countered with a personal shot at Mangini.
”Look who it’s coming from,” Owens told Bengals teammate Chad
Ochocinco in an interview on VERSUS in advance of the premiere of
the ”The T.Ocho Show.” ”Probably 90 percent of his players don’t
like him (Mangini) anyway. ”I don’t like him. We got to see him
again anyway, so we’ll see who’s going to do some cheap shots next
”Hit me like that.”
The Browns visit the Bengals on Dec. 19.
Ward insists he didn’t intentionally try to injure Shipley. As
he came across the end zone, Ward said he saw the ball and Shipley
and acted instinctively.
”It wasn’t malicious intent to knock him out or get him hurt,”
Ward said. ”It’s part of the game. I reacted to what I saw and
tried to make a play. I didn’t really try to hit him with
everything I had, but still it was a pretty violent hit. I wasn’t
trying to aim for his helmet in any way.
”I just hit what I saw, it all happened so fast.”
It may have been a blur, but with the league determined to clean
up unnecessary contact to player’s head in the wake of new studies
on concussions, Ward may need to closely monitor his future
on-field conduct. He may not deserve a head hunter’s label or to be
cast as a dirty player, but it’s likely officials will be aware of
Ward’s actions as the season progresses.
Undersized at 5-foot-10, Ward made Oregon’s team as a walk-on.
He wound up playing 37 games for the Ducks, catching the eye of pro
scouts because of his ability to punish running backs, wide
receivers and quarterbacks. He never backed off, and he has no
plans to stop playing the only way he knows.
Ward was aware that Mike Pereira, former NFL vice president of
officiating, said in an interview with the Cleveland Plain Dealer
that the league should fine the 23-year-old a minimum of $25,000
for a hit he described as ”one of the worst I’ve seen in a
The Browns haven’t had a defensive back who could hit like Ward
since safety Eric Turner in the 1990s. Mangini wants his team to be
physical, and from experience, he knows that having a safety who
can deliver knee-buckling hits can make receivers wary of coming
over the middle.
”Legally, you want guys to think, ‘OK, if I catch this in cut,
there’s going to be a price to pay for catching this,”’ Mangini
said. ”If you can establish that, then sometimes guys will get
alligator arms or they won’t run those angles quite as deep or as
”No one would ever admit, ‘Man, I don’t really want to go in
there.’ If you can get an understanding with receivers, it
Not surprisingly, the Browns didn’t have any issues with Ward’s
big hit. If anyone of them had a right to be upset, it’s rookie
quarterback Colt McCoy. Shipley was McCoy’s teammate at Texas and
the best man at his wedding. But even he didn’t think Ward’s hit
was beyond reason.
”It’s a violent sport,” McCoy said. ”We all know that there’s
gonna be contact. Nobody ever wants to get hurt, and nobody ever
wants to hurt anybody. It was a good hit. Jordan knows. He’s played
receiver his whole life. There’s a chance that when you go across
the middle, that you’re gonna have to take a big shot, a big lick,
and he got one.”