New York Giants defensive end Justin Tuck said Thursday he would appeal a $7,500 fine levied by the NFL for a much-debated roughing-the-quarterback penalty in New York's victory over Dallas last Sunday.
Tuck was flagged for driving the Cowboys' Brooks Bollinger into the turf in the second half. Replays show Tuck wrapping up Bollinger the moment the quarterback released the ball, then partly releasing his grasp on their way down before landing on Bollinger with his full body weight.
NFL information manager Randall Liu, quoted in Friday's New York Times, said Tuck was fined because "he unnecessarily drove the opposing quarterback to the ground."
The fine was issued by Gene Washington, the NFL's director of football operations, Liu told The Times.
"Our job description is basically to destroy a quarterback, but you've got to pick and choose how to do it," Tuck said Thursday, according to The Times, after announcing he would appeal the fine. Tuck had 2½ of the Giants' four sacks in a 35-14 victory over Dallas.
"We are going to support Justin's appeal and we don't think it is right," Giants coach Tom Coughlin said Friday. "He did nothing that you wouldn't instruct a player to do. He just tackled the quarterback; that is all he did."
Henderson and Whitworth exchanged punches after Henderson knocked off Whitworth's helmet, then appeared to try to gouge his eyes. Both players were penalized and ejected.
The NFL has been vigilant in its protection of quarterbacks from unnecessary hits, but the league and its players' union continue to spar over disciplinary action against players the league considers to have delivered illegal hits.
"It is something the players feel is getting out of hand," Richard Berthelsen, the union's acting executive director, told The Washington Post. "We've now covered about two-thirds of the league in terms of our player meetings, and we've heard that over and over.
"On one of the commissioner's conference calls with the players' advisory council a few weeks ago, some of these issues came up. The players definitely feel it has gotten excessive."
Berthelsen told The Post that the union, through labor talks, will pursue the establishment of a new system that would enable players to appeal to an independent arbitrator to have fines or suspensions overturned or reduced.
In an interview with The Post earlier this week, commissioner Roger Goodell defended the league's disciplinary measures.
"What we're trying to do is support the policies and the rules that are established -- with a great deal of the players' input, by the way -- and that are designed in large part to protect the players on the field from a safety standpoint, make the game as safe as possible for them," Goodell said.
Giants coach Tom Coughlin said he didn't believe Tuck's hit on Bollinger warranted a flag. Coughlin was immediate and animated in his protest at the time Tuck was flagged.
"On the spot, the official thought it was [a penalty]. [Tuck] was attacking the quarterback," Coughlin said, according to The Times. "He doesn't have a checklist that he goes through. It is foolish to continue dialogue about this because it doesn't settle anything."
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.