Barnett finds himself in a fine mess

For the third time this season, the linebacker must write a check to the NFL. "I don't even know how you're supposed to tackle the quarterbacks at all. I have no clue," he said.

Perhaps Nick Barnett should set up an automatic deposit into the NFL's coffers.

The Packers' middle linebacker was fined $7,500 for a second consecutive game, this time for nailing Jon Kitna just after the Lions' quarterback unloaded the ball during Sunday's game at Detroit.

Last week, Barnett was fined $7,500 for a horse-collar tackle of Vikings quarterback Tarvaris Jackson. Before that, he was fined an entire game check — while appealing his way out of a one-game suspension — for an incident outside an Appleton bar in 2007.

"I'm in the negatives right now! It's crazy," Barnett said of his salary. "I respect the first fine. That's just stupid, off-the-field stupid stuff."

Barnett wasn't so understanding of the latest fine, and says he plans to appeal. The way Barnett sees it, he pulled his head away at the last second and hit Kitna with his shoulder, not the crown of his helmet.

"It doesn't even look like I tried to kill him or something," Barnett said after reviewing the play on the Packers' game film.

The NFL, as it increases its focus of player safety this season, disagrees. Much to the chagrin of Barnett, whose job is to tackle somebody who won't cooperate by standing still.

"I don't even know how you're supposed to tackle the quarterbacks at all. I have no clue," Barnett said. "When I was taught, it was head up in the chest, wrap up, pull down. Now, first of all, you can't have helmet-to-helmet contact. You can't tackle them down low. We have running quarterbacks in the NFL. How are you really supposed to tackle them?"

Barnett understands the NFL's need to crack down on what he called "crazy stuff" like cheap shots and hits to defenseless players. What he doesn't understand are the monetary penalties for tackles that he feels are part of the game.

"Football is a risky game, first of all. If players are not willing to risk themselves, they shouldn't play the game of football," Barnett said. "That's why people love it so much — because it's a hard-hitting game. People get up and they're tough and they play. This is not flag football. This isn't a knock against the commissioner of the NFL, but it's a physical game. You can't take away physical play."

 Bill Huber is editor of Packer Report and PackerReport.com. E-mail him at packwriter2002@yahoo.com


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