The NFL struck Pittsburgh Steelers running back Jaylen Warren with a huge $48,333 fine after he made an illegal hit during the Steelers' Monday Night Football win over the Cleveland Browns, per NFL Network's Tom Pelissero.
Warren hit Browns safety Juan Thornhill using his helmet, which violates the NFL's helmet rule. The current helmet rule was originally established in 2018, and prohibits initiating any contact using the helmet in order to promote player safety and prevent head injuries.
Here’s the play … which didn’t draw a flag. pic.twitter.com/DA2f35G9tx
— Tom Pelissero (@TomPelissero) September 23, 2023
The rule was updated during the 2023 offseason. “The most significant change expands the rule against using the helmet as a weapon. A 15-yard penalty will continue to be called if a player lowers his head and makes forcible contact with his helmet against an opponent. But now, a player will also be penalized if he uses any part of his helmet or face mask to butt or make forcible contact to an opponent's head or neck area,” via NFL columnist Judy Battista.
The fine might have been too high because Warren didn't hit Thornhill maliciously, but that doesn't erase any penalty. The amount of money charged is also controversial because Warren makes a salary of just $870,000. Many feel the fine should have at least been a lower number since Warren is on one of the NFL's minimum salaries.
Though many felt the fine was too high, especially since the referees didn't flag Warren for the play, he did violate the rule pretty clearly. Part of the reason Jaylen Warren may not have received a penalty for the play is because referees have often not called this penalty on offensive players, even when they are the one's initiating contact with their helmets. For a clean play, Warren could have opted stiff arm Thornhill or initiate contact with his shoulder instead.