League cracks down on dangerous hits

The NFL imposed huge fines Tuesday on three players for dangerous and flagrant hits last weekend and warned that, starting with this week's games, violent conduct will be cause for suspension.

Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker James Harrison was docked $75,000, while New England Patriots safety Brandon Meriweather and Atlanta Falcons cornerback Dunta Robinson were docked $50,000 each.

In the past, players were either fined or ejected for illegal hits. However, after the series of recent flagrant tackles, several of which resulted in concussions, the NFL ramped up the punishment.

Football operations chief Ray Anderson indicated the suspensions could start immediately. However, NFL spokesman Greg Aiello said the league wanted to give teams fair warning and would send a memo today outlining the changes.

Ravens tight end Todd Heap took a vicious hit from Meriweather that Heap called “one of those hits that shouldn’t happen.” Robinson and the Eagles’ DeSean Jackson were knocked out of their game with concussions after a frightening collision in which Robinson launched himself head first to make a tackle. Harrison knocked out two Browns players with jarring hits.


The NFL has told the players’ union that it will stop providing health care for players and their families in March if the two sides do not reach a new collective bargaining agreement. The Jaguars could have two quarterbacks off the street suiting up for them at Kansas City Sunday. With starter David Garrard and backup Trent Edwards both injured, the Jaguars re-signed veteran Todd Bouman. To make roster room, the team released safety Gerald Alexander. Jacksonville also is planning to take a look at free agent quarterback Patrick Ramsey, released by the Saints in final roster cuts. The Colts claimed running back Andre Brown off waivers from Denver and released kick returner Kenny Moore. Browns defensive end Robaire Smith is done for the season with a back injury. Steelers defensive end Brett Keisel will sit out Sunday’s game at Miami with a left hamstring injury. The Broncos have promoted linebacker Diyral Briggs from their practice squad and placed wide receiver Matthew Willis on injured reserve with a broken foot.