Former NFL star J.J. Watt has spoken out about the NFL’s fines to players this season and took another shot at the league for its discipline of Detroit Lions wide receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown.
St. Brown was fined $43,709 for a block on a running play against the Chicago Bears last week, the NFL Network reported Saturday. He was reportedly penalized for lowering his head while initiating contact.
Watt reacted in a post on X, saying the NFL was "stealing money."
Lions wide receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown after catching a pass in the end zone for a touchdown against the Chicago Bears on Nov. 19, 2023, at Ford Field in Detroit. (Scott W. Grau/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
"Here we go again…," he wrote. "General rule of thumb: If you have to watch the video multiple times to try figuring out which person did something wrong and you still can’t figure it out, we probably shouldn’t be taking $43,709 from someone.
"This. Is. Stealing. Money."
The former defensive end for the Houston Texans and Arizona Cardinals spoke out against unnecessary roughness penalties and the fines for it earlier this month.
"I’ve been on the other ends of these fines. I’ve gotten some of these fines. There’s some of them that have been legit – there’s no doubt about it," Watt said on "The Pat McAfee Show."
"There’s definitely plays that are legitimately… I understand why they’re fining and why we’re trying to get some of those things out of the game.
Former NFL player J.J. Watt visits the set of the Amazon Prime TNF pregame show before the Tennessee Titans and Pittsburgh Steelers game at Acrisure Stadium on Nov. 2, 2023, in Pittsburgh. (Cooper Neill/Getty Images)
"But what's happening now? These plays that we're fining guys for, and we're taking tens of thousands of dollars out of their pockets because of routine football plays. Things that happen throughout the course of the game. It is mind-blowing to me.
"And I know these guys can’t really say anything because if they speak up, now, they’re gonna get fined for speaking up about it.… When you have to run the play back 10 times to figure out which guy even got fined, like what’re we doing here?"
Watt wondered what the point of the excessive fines were. He pointed to potential "posturing for the next CBA" or the NFL wants to be able to say that they "tried to stop the violence" but the players said "they didn’t like it."
NFL Players Association president J.C. Tretter wrote that players have voiced concerns publicly and privately about the excessive fines.
"By simply creating a new point of emphasis, the NFL can rack up hundreds of escalating fines on players," Tretter wrote. "This is an approach that does not make sense and is leading to money coming out of players’ pockets for things that, often, they are being coached to execute. In short, players feel this has become less about player safety and more about being overly punitive. "
Amon-Ra St. Brown, left, of the Lions celebrates a second-quarter touchdown against the Chicago Bears at Ford Field on Nov. 19, 2023, in Detroit. (Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
He gave two examples of the NFL doling out fines and the players appealing and winning the appeal. He said it was up to the union to "do a better job of ensuring players know their appeals rights."
"We also need to work with the NFL to revisit and review the current system and do a better job of advocating for common sense application of the rules," he added.
"If eliminating dangerous play is the overall goal, then the current system we have is not fully achieving it. Instead, it is being applied and enforced at the expense of creating confusion and frustration among players and fans. We should be able to come together and find a solution."