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Jon Bostic's fine for 'clean hit' further fuels debate over NFL's tackling rules

Chicago Bears rookie linebacker Jon Bostic has been fined for a vicious hit. (Jim Dedmon/Icon SMI)

Chicago Bears rookie linebacker Jon Bostic has been fined for a vicious hit.

Bears rookie linebacker Jon Bostic will earn $405,000 in base salary this season. He now reportedly owes the NFL $21K.

As first reported by teammate Lance Briggs (and later confirmed by NFL Network's Ian Rapoport), Bostic was fined for a hit he laid on San Diego receiver Matt Willie in the Bears' 33-28 preseason win in Week 2. The NFL's decision to punish Bostic for that hit had Briggs up in arms:

The second play Briggs is referring to is one made by Houston safety D.J. Swearinger on Miami tight end Dustin Keller. As Keller attempted to catch a pass, Swearinger delivered a low shot, resulting in a torn ACL, MCL and PCL and a dislocated knee for Keller -- injuries which will keep Keller out for the entire 2013 season and have put his career in jeopardy.

Swearinger defended his hit thusly:

"With the rules in this era you’ve got to hit low," he said, per "If I would have hit him high, I would have gotten a fine. So I think I made the smartest play. I’m sorry it happened and I pray he has a speedy recovery. ... Right now it’s just instinct. You see somebody come across the middle, you gotta go low. You’re going to cost your team 15 yards. You’ve got to play within the rules."

The fine doled out Bostic's way certainly plays to Swearinger's point. The hit by Bostic on Willie (which you can see here) was a vicious one, but Bostic appeared to tuck his head and hit Willie shoulder-to-shoulder, with some incidental contact to Willie's helmet. In fact, the NFL called the hit "spectacular" when it first posted the video, only to reverse course later.

"Jonathan Bostic's going to square you up, form-tackle you and make you remember the hit," ESPN analyst and former NFL QB Trent Dilfer said following the play, which was ruled an incompletion.

That Bostic received a slap on the wrist, while Swearinger walks away unscathed despite ruining Keller's season adds more fuel to the fire over the NFL's rules on tackling. Swearinger's argument -- that the league's emphasis on eliminating blows to the head could lead to more leg and knee injuries -- is far from a new one. Whether or not Swearinger actually had those rules in mind when he flung himself at Keller's knee is debatable, but the aftermath of both that incident and Bostic's hit on Willie lends credence to his point.

Last week on Audibles, we took a look back at a 1978 SI cover story, which openly questioned if football had become too dangerous. The NFL has been much more proactive in attempting to prevent injuries in recent years, especially with relation to concussions, but this is further proof that it may be treading water. The game of football is a violent one, and for every issue addressed, another one seemingly arises.