Redskins safety Brandon Meriweather served his one-game suspension (reduced from two games on appeal) Sunday, missing a loss in Denver. He will be back on the field in Week 9 against San Diego and, apparently, offensive players everywhere ought to be on the lookout.
Speaking with the media Monday, Meriweather said that if the NFL is going to punish him for hitting high, he'll have to target another area of the body.
"To be honest, you've just got to go low now," Meriweather said, according to ESPN 980's Chris Russell. "You gotta end people's careers.
"You gotta tear people's ACLs," Meriweather continued. "Mess up people's knees. You can't him them high anymore. You've just got to go low."
Perhaps not the smartest comments for a player whose rather reckless play already has landed him squarely on the NFL's radar. Meriweather drew his suspension after delivering a pair of penalized hits in a loss to Chicago, one on Alshon Jeffery and another on Brandon Marshall. Earlier this season, Meriweather knocked Packers running back Eddie Lacy from a game with a helmet-to-helmet hit and he's been fined in the past for his on-field actions.
Marshall took particular exception to his run-in with Meriweather, calling on the NFL to punish Washington's safety severely: "I respect the league trying to better our game and guys like that, maybe he needs to get suspended or taken out of the game completely. ...
"Guys like that just don’t understand. Those are the guys that are in trouble. They really don’t have anything to do after football because they think it is all about football."
Marshall told ESPN's Linda Cohn on Listen Closely that Meriweather reached out to him after those comments, seeking some explanation. "I talked to Brandon ... I just tried to express to him how I felt -- that one, I don’t understand why he would hurt himself physically and financially; and two, I just explained to him that we’ve got to accept the game for what it is. When you look at his history, there’s a pattern there."
Apparently, whatever Marshall said to Meriweather did not land on friendly ears. Meriweather snapped back at Marshall's initial comments on Monday, per Zac Boyer of The Washington Times.
"He feels like I need to be kicked out of the league? I feel like people who beat their girlfriends should be kicked out, too," Meriweather said, referencing a civil suit that a former girlfriend filed against Marshall, alleging domestic abuse. That suit was thrown out and Marshall's name cleared.
Meriweather may not have all the information on that case, because he added: "You tell me who you’d rather have: Somebody who plays aggressive on the field, or somebody who beat up their girlfriend?"
The one-game suspension cost Meriweather approximately $75,000 in salary, on top of the $42K he was fined for his hit on Lacy. The NFL also assessed Meriweather a $75,000 fine in 2010 because of two hits on then Baltimore TE Todd Heap, and he racked up $45,000 in additional penalties the following season.
Meriweather's recent suspension was the most severe punishment he has received thus far, though his argument that he has no choice but to hit low is one brought to the table by multiple defenders in the past. (Meriweather took it a step further than others with his comments about ending careers and tearing ACLs.)
Houston safety D.J. Swearinger took a similar position in the preseason, amid criticism lobbed his way after he ended Dustin Keller's season with a hit to the knee. Baltimore's Chris Canty later came to the defense of his team's safety, Matt Elam, after Elam injured Randall Cobb with a similar blow. "It’s a legal hit, it’s within the rules," Canty said of Elam's tackle. The debate is not likely to end anytime soon, especially given the NFL's continued crackdown on hits above the shoulders. Meriweather sounds plenty willing to add to the controversy.