ENGLEWOOD, Colo. (AP) Several Denver Broncos defenders are angry that the NFL didn't suspend Pittsburgh Steelers center Cody Wallace for launching himself helmet-first into safety David Bruton Jr.'s head last weekend.
Wallace said he was protecting a teammate, but acknowledged what he did was wrong.
Late in the first quarter Sunday, Antonio Brown was being tackled when Broncos defensive end Malik Jackson hit the wide receiver from the side. Wallace took exception and launched himself into the pile, striking Bruton, who wasn't looking, on the crown of his helmet. The hit sent Bruton to the sideline where he was checked for a concussion.
''It was dangerous what I did,'' Wallace told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. ''You can't do stuff like that out there. I fully expected (the fine). It's part of the game.''
The standard fine for a hit on a defenseless player is $23,152.
''Well, I'm glad he got something. I was worried he was going to get away Scott-free,'' Bruton said Wednesday.
His teammates were less diplomatic, suggesting the league was out to get the Broncos - Denver's defense has incurred 22 personal fouls this season and the Broncos have 27 overall - but looks the other way with other teams.
Cornerback Aqib Talib was ejected and suspended one game for poking a Colts player in the eye earlier this season. He said, ''If I put a guy's life in danger by doing this (eye-poke gesture), and it costs me $350,000, man, that definitely puts somebody's life in danger.''
Other Broncos suggested that what Odell Beckham Jr. got suspended for this week pales in comparison to a 300-pound lineman with a running start and spearing an unsuspecting player who had his head down after the play was over.
The league suspended Beckham for his conduct against Carolina, when he drew three personal foul penalties, including one for a diving helmet-to-helmet hit on Panthers cornerback Josh Norman. The punishment was upheld on appeal Wednesday.
Bruton said Wallace's hit should have also drawn a suspension.
''I think so. Because you know there are a lot of linemen out here in the league who clear out piles like that even when their guy's not running,'' Bruton said.
''And the fact that he dove, left his feet and had his head down to take me out with my head down, it's just - it's up to the NFL office, but I don't think a fine's enough.''
Neither does cornerback Chris Harris Jr.
''If that was us that hit him, we would have been suspended,'' Harris said, adding ''I don't even think Odell's hit was worse than what Cody did to Brut.''
Safety T.J. Ward was ejected from a game earlier this season for taking a swing at a Chiefs player who blocked him from the side after Kansas City's running back had already scored on the play. Ward drew a fine, but not a suspension.
Ward said he can't make any sense of the league's discipline.
''This year has been crazy,'' Ward said. ''There's been a lot of things that if I would have done, I probably would have been kicked out of the game. And if some of my teammates would have done it, we would have gotten kicked out of the game and fined. You see that other teams and other players are doing similar things - or worse - and there are really no repercussions to it. So, that's really frustrating.''
The hit on Bruton came moments after he fractured his right fibula - he thought it was only a bad bruise - and the Broncos placed him on IR this week because the expected recovery time was more than six weeks.
Bruton missed one play after the hit from Wallace and ended up playing 75 snaps on defense and special teams after breaking his leg, which coach Gary Kubiak called a testament to his toughness.
After being informed he'd was being placed on IR Tuesday, prematurely ending the best season of his seven-year pro career, Bruton attended a bicycle giveaway with the Boys & Girls Club.
''That's David,'' Kubiak said. ''You don't have to ask David to do anything. He does everything on his own. He's a special player, a special person. It's a shame he can't finish up with us here.''
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