In the aftermath of the Chicago Bears' loss Sunday at Washington, receiver Brandon Marshall suggested that Washington Redskins safety Brandon Meriweather should "get suspended or taken out of the game completely" for his illegal hits.
A day later, Bears tight end Martellus Bennett said he wants to "punch (Meriweather) in the face."
These guys (getting hit illegally) have kids, they have livelihoods. You never want to see that happen to a guy, and I don't think you want to be a guy that causes that type of emotional pain on his family, his livelihood, whether a guy can work or do things because football's football. At the end of the day, it's not who we are. It's just what we do.” -- Martellus Bennett on Brandon Meriweather
The NFL announced Monday that it suspended Meriweather for two games without pay for repeated violations of its safety rules which prohibit hits to the head.
Apparently the league's discipline didn't appease Bennett, who made scathing comments regarding Meriweather on Monday during his weekly radio show on WSR-670 in Chicago.
"I still want to punch him in the face," Bennett said during the interview.
Informed of the league's suspension of Meriweather, Bennett quipped: "We don't get any of his money."
"What it comes down to, at the end of the day, the players have got to look out for the players," Bennett explained. "There's a way to go out there and be a beast when you hit people, and have nobody want to come across the middle. But then, there's a way not to do it where you're deliberately hitting guys (in the head) or after the game you're saying, 'Oh, I've got to pay,' because you know what you did was wrong when you were doing it. It's not ignorance because he knows what he's doing. Some guys are making these attacks on other guys."
Marshall spoke with ESPN's Linda Cohn on Tuesday and said he understands that rule changes have made it tougher on defensive players but that they are the rules and they've been implemented for a reason.
He also said that he reached out to Meriweather to discuss the situation but came away without much agreement.
"It was one of those things it seemed like he was more concerned about being suspended and losing some money when I was just trying to explain to him (to) forget that, let's talk about life," Marshall said. "Let's talk about life after football, being able to function. And trying to express to him that you're hurting yourself too physically."
Bennett also suggested that "most guys that do that can't cover."
Meriweather was credited with four tackles against the Bears, but a hit on Marshall in the end zone during the fourth quarter injured the receiver's wrist, in part, because the safety led with his head. Officials flagged Meriweather on the play with a personal foul for hitting a defenseless receiver.
Bears general manager Phil Emery declined to comment on Meriweather, because "he's on another team."
"That will be addressed with the Washington Redskins, not the Chicago Bears," Emery said. "In terms of player safety, the Chicago Bears are going to follow the rules to the best of our ability. Players get fined when those type of things happen, when the infractions happen. I see the fine sheet every week, so the league has written the rules in the best interest of the players. They've been approved by ownership and they'll be applied by the officials and we'll stand by them."
After the game, Redskins coach Mike Shanahan hoped the NFL wouldn't suspend Meriweather "because I know it's not intentional."
Bennett and Marshall suggested otherwise.
"These guys (getting hit illegally) have kids; they have livelihoods," Bennett said. "You never want to see that happen to a guy, and I don't think you want to be a guy that causes that type of emotional pain on his family, his livelihood, whether a guy can work or do things because football's football. At the end of the day, it's not who we are. It's just what we do. There's only like 1,500 of us in the NFL doing this at this level. You've got a bunch of guys that may be on your team next year. You never know when a guy may be on your team. You don't want to have to deal with that guy in the locker room."
They've done it before. As a member of the Chicago Bears in 2011, Meriweather received a $25,000 fine for a hit on Detroit Lions receiver Nate Burleson, which at the time marked his third fine in two years. Just nine days before that incident, the NFL fined Meriweather $20,000 for a helmet-to-helmet hit on Carolina Panthers receiver Steve Smith.
Meriweather said he wouldn't change the way played at the time, and apparently has stuck to that declaration.
The NFL fined Meriweather $42,000 earlier this season for a helmet-to-helmet hit on Green Bay running back Eddie Lacy, and ironically, the safety gave himself a concussion later in the game with a helmet-to-helmet blow on James Starks.
"If I'm on the same team with you and (a hit like Meriweather's on Marshall) happens, I'm gonna try to get you on every single day, you know what I'm saying?" Bennett said. "So I just think it's wrong. I don't know. I don't play defense, either. So I don't have to tackle."