New Orleans safety Roman Harper has been fined $15,000, according to an ESPN.com report, for his late hit on Panther wide receiver Steve Smith in Sunday's 30-27 New Orleans win.
If you saw the play Sunday, you can't forget it. Smith out-jumped Jabari Greer for the ball at the Saints' 30. Greer fell down, which left Smith coasting into the end zone for the last few yards and a touchdown. Harper came and blasted No.89 three yards deep in the end zone, drawing a 15-yard penalty and igniting a full-scale brawl.
Was $15,000 enough? I would say no, not quite, although I'm glad the NFL took action here. Other hits sometimes draw bigger fines from the NFL, and this one should have.
While Smith wasn't entirely in "defenseless receiver" mode when he got hit, it was close. And someone else easily could have been hurt in the resulting scuffle that Panther coach Ron Rivera said he was "very pleased with" at his Monday news conference.
"We are not going to take it," Rivera said. "Like I said before, we may be the little brothers and we may get punched around a little bit but we are not going to take it. We are going to fight back. I was very proud of them for that."
Harper did not apologize after the game for hitting Smith, saying: "If you're going to score, go score. But a guy is not going to try and just walk it in on us like that. You're going to have to pay for it as you get past the goal line."
Now Harper is the one paying.
Smith, who did not immediately fight after the hit but later got locked up with another Saint in the ensuing scuffle, said after the game of Harper's hit: "I don’t really understand it, the reason why. But that’s his game. That’s his thing, him personally, he wants to intimidate.
"You know I wanted to respond," Smith continued. "I just took the high road and then all of a sudden the other guys came down there and I was right in the thick of it… People say I’m unpredictable. But I’ve grown up a little bit."