Over the past two weeks Dan Neil has received more publicity than he ever thought possible.
It's also been far more publicity than the Broncos offensive guard has ever wanted.
Saturday the National Footbal League fined Neil $52,941, one of the largest fine in league history, for two leg whips during Monday night's loss to the Oakland Raiders. Also fined were left guard Lennie Friedman, $12,000 and linebacker Bill Romonowski, $7,500 for a late hit on tight end Roland Williams.
Add to that the $15,000 fine on right tackle Matt Lepsis three weeks ago against San Diego and the $15,000 fine against Neil for clipping New England linebacker Bryan Cox's leg, and the Broncos find themselves $127,529 in the hole for what the league considers illegal activities.
"Since I've been here, we've had 6,000 plays, and out of those 6,000 plays we had two weeks in a row where we had fines," said Broncos head coach Mike Shanahan prior to Saturday's announcement.
"One guy says he didn't touch the guy and the other guy was a legal block and he rolled up on the back of somebody's legs. So when you take into consideration there's between 6,000 and 7,000 plays and we've had two fines, I think that speaks for itself."
Less than twenty-four hours later, the league spoke for itself, announcing a trio of fines levied against the team for Monday night's game.
So much for Shanahan's spin control, few around the league are buying into it.
Denver has been openly criticized for blocking techniques for the past several years, but only recently have they begun to incur the wrath of the league.
"People know when they play us we're going to play hard and we're going to cut," tight end Dwayne Carswell said. "That's just something we do. We're a cutting team. You don't try to hit someone illegally, but in certain situations it happens like that. We don't do it with the intent of hurting anybody."
Intent or not, the technique put an end to the season for San Diego Chargers defensive lineman Maa Tanuvasa, who ironically spent six years on the Broncos roster before being released earlier this year.
Two weeks ago Tanuvasa's former teammate Matt Lepsis used a cut block during the third quarter, which resulted in Tanuvasa's broken ankle.
"It was a dirty shot," defensive tackle Leonardo Carson told reporters. "It seemed like they tried to pay him back for him coming here after they cut him. It looked like it was a bad deal, especially when we looked on the film, and it really wasn't called for."
While it may provide motivation for today's Charger – Broncos matchup, for Tanuvasa it was simply part of the game.
"He's called so many times and apologized," said Tanuvasa, who looks at Lepsis as both a friend and a neighbor. "I know what type of person he is; he's a great person. I have no ill will toward him. These things happen in games, but unfortunately it happened to me.
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