Steelers' Garvin fined $25,000 for hit on Bengals punter
By Alan Robinson
Published: Wednesday, Dec. 18, 2013, 5:09 p.m.
Steelers linebacker Terence Garvin won't change the way he plays despite being fined $25,000 by the NFL on Wednesday for a punishing block that broke Bengals punter Kevin Huber's jaw.
He said he simply can't, because he couldn't play football the way it must be played in the NFL to keep one's job.
“I'm going to play physical and I'm going to try to play the way I grew up playing,” Garvin said. “It's just that you've got to think about things you're doing. But you've still got to fly around and make plays the best way you can.”
Garvin's fine is the largest for a Steelers player this season. His penalty was above the normal $22,050 threshold for such fines because punters are considered to be defenseless on every play — even while attempting to make a tackle — and thus can't be struck in the head or neck.
Garvin plans to reach out to Huber to say he is thinking about him and praying for him.
Garvin's fine is $1,200 more than his weekly paycheck of $23,800, but he will appeal because, under the NFL labor agreement, a player cannot be fined more than one-quarter of his weekly wage. Appealing is expected to trim Garvin's penalty to approximately $6,000.
Antonio Brown joked he should pay the fine — he is not permitted to — because Garvin's big hit helped clear the way for his 67-yard punt return for a touchdown.
“(Garvin) is a young guy who is big, strong and fast, and he's trying to make a play so we can score a touchdown,” kicker Shaun Suisham said. “I don't think there's anything malicious or trying to break somebody's jaw. It just happened.”
Suisham doesn't consider himself to be a “defenseless” player on any kick, as evidenced by his two tackles and two assists.
“You're not defenseless when you put yourself in position to try to make a tackle,” he said. “Playing this game is difficult. It's a violent game. Certainly watching the clip with Kevin getting hit like that … I hate to see him be hurt like that. But football is a dangerous game. Those guys are big, strong and fast, and it hurts.”
Multiple Steelers players rushed to Garvin's defense, saying plays take place at such high speed it is almost impossible to determine whether a player racing downfield is a kicker or punter. Jersey numbers cannot be picked out, and they look only for a player in a different color jersey.
“Everybody is out there wearing a helmet. Everybody is moving fast and you just react and hit,” safety Shamarko Thomas said. “The jerseys are moving fast. You're trying to help your player out, and anything can happen.”
Linebacker Stevenson Sylvester said, “The speed we play this game at, it's hard to dictate how to block somebody.”
Garvin is an undrafted rookie free agent from West Virginia whose career is week-to-week, like many players without long-term contracts. To such players, it's hit first and think later.
“I wasn't out there trying to be vicious or anything like that,” Garvin said. “I'm just trying to do what I can to make a play and help my team out. When you're in a game, you're trying to make a play, and that's all I'm thinking about.”
Alan Robinson is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter @arobinson_Trib.
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