A Decade of NFL Fines

A Decade of NFL Fines
Untitled Document

A Decade of NFL Fines

Who, What, When, and How Much?

It's been no secret that the NFL has made it a priority to "clean up" their league in terms of injuries - especially those to the head. In doing so the league has introduced new rules that strongly decrease the chance for players to be "defenseless" or furthermore vulnerable to incidental injury while on the playing field.

These rule changes bring with them regular, and in some cases hefty, financial repercussions. As numbers and interest surrounding these fines gains steam, we'll take an in-depth look from 2002 through week 6 of the 2013 season. Comparisons include:

Related: Browse & Track all NFL Fines/Suspensions in the NFL 

Total NFL Fines Per League Year
Below is a graphical and tabular representation of the total fines per year. (hover the graph to view the total sum)

*2013 thru Week 6


Year Total # of Fines Most Fined Team Most Fined Position Most Fined Player
2002 $297,647 26 Packers (4) Safety (7) Darren Woodson (DAL, $75,000)
2003 $274,600 24 Titans (7) Wide Receiver (6) Warren Sapp (TB, $50,000)
2004 $1,479,080 16 Broncos (3)
Vikings (3)
Giants (3)
Safety (6) Jamal Lewis (BAL, $760,000)
2005 $261,823 18 Falcons (6) Safety (4) Samari Rolle (BAL, $58,823)
2006 $343,028 15 Steelers (4) Wide Receiver (5) Fred Smoot (MIN, $82,352)
2007 $759,116 43 Titans (6) Defensive Tackle (9) Joey Porter (MIA, $141,176)
2008 $977,500 78 Dolphins (7) Wide Receiver (15)
Linebacker (15)
Jamar Williams (CHI, $75,000)
2009 $755,000 82 Titans (8) Defensive Tackle (15) Richie Incognito (STL, $50,000)
Flozell Adams (DAL, $50,000)
2010 $1,895,000 115 Vikings (12) Linebacker (23) Shaun Rogers (CLE, $400,000)
2011 $1,040,000 79 Steelers (9) Safety (18) Ryan Clark (PIT, $40,000)
2012 $2,825,321 193 Ravens (16) Safety (38) Ed Reed (BAL, $55,000)
2013 (6 weeks) $1,611,160 100 Lions (10) Safety (22) Dashon Goldson (TB, $100,000)
Ndamukong Suh (DET, $100,000)
Total $12,519,275 789
Notable Points:
  • Since 2002, $12.5 million in fines have been handed out by the NFL. (Aaron Rodgers made $40M in cash in 2013)
  • The amount of fines has steadily increased since 2002, but in 2010 the NFL increased its efforts handing out over $1.5 million in fines, most ever ($1.895 million to be exact).
  • The anomaly in 2004 is due to Jamal Lewis' $760,000 fine for an off-field violation.
  • The dip in 2011 is interesting (still over $1 million however) due to the fact that the league had just come out of the lockout; whether or not the dip is because of the lockout is unknown, but based on the trends of the years surrounding 2011 the NFL may have been weary of dishing out as many fines after having had such a rough offseason.
  • 2012 had an explosion of fines handed out reaching approximately $2.83 million, but the most interesting aspect to date is that the NFL has handed out over $1.6 million in fines through 6 weeks. If the trend in 2013 continues, we could be looking at somewhere between $4 million and $5 million in fines - almost doubling 2012.
Back to Top
Fines Per Category

We grouped every fine by category to determine which area the NFL has been targeting the most between 2002 and 2013 Week 6 as well as breaking it down per year to see how the categories targeted changed over time. When looking at the categories per year you can see a defined shift in how the NFL is fining players. Between 2003 and 2007 fines were being handed out for Off-field violations, celebration and unsportsmanlike conduct, however, between 2010 and 2013 the NFL has been heavy on the roughing the passer, hit on defenseless player, and helmet-to-helmet fines.

Cumulative Results Since 2002
Rank Category Amount #
1 Hit on Defenseless Player $1,688,357 89
2 Roughing the Passer $1,649,389 127
3 Helmet-to-Helmet Hit $1,246,750 54

Year #1 #2 #3
2002 Hit on Defenseless Player Roughing the Passer Unsportsmanlike Conduct
2003 Celebration Physical Contact with Official Verbal or other Non-Physical
Offense Against Official
2004 Off-field Violation Helmet-to-Helmet Hit Unsportsmanlike Conduct
2005 Off-field Violation Unsportsmanlike Conduct Unnecessarily Entering Fight Area
2006 Off-field Violation Unsportsmanlike Conduct Striking/Kicking/Kneeing
2007 Other Uniform/Equipment Violation Off-field Violation Roughing the Passer
2008 Verbal or other Non-Physical
Offense Against Official
Roughing the Passer Unsportsmanlike Conduct
2009 Unsportsmanlike Conduct Roughing the Passer Late Hit
2010 Other Uniform/Equipment Violation Hit on Defenseless Player Helmet-to-Helmet Hit
2011 Roughing the Passer Helmet-to-Helmet Hit Hit on Defenseless Player
2012 Hit on Defenseless Player Roughing the Passer Helmet-to-Helmet Hit
(thru week 6)
Hit on Defenseless Player Helmet-to-Helmet Hit Roughing the Passer
USA TodayJay Cutler being wrapped up by the Saints' defense.

With the NFL's push to make the game safer and with the trend mentioned about for 2010-2013, the Top 3 fined categories since 2002 are roughing the passer, hit on defenseless player, and helmet-to-helmet fines. The three fines total $4.58 million, a staggering 36.6%, since 2002.

Roughing the Passer (and by Passer we mean Jay Cutler)
Roughing the Passer has shown up in the top 3 in 8 of the 12 years. When analyzing which quarterbacks fell victim to the "roughing", Jay Cutler (DEN, CHI) came out on top with 11 roughing the passer violations fined against him (a total of $167,500).

Back to Top
Most/Least Fined Teams Since 2002

We wanted to see which teams players were being fined the most on. Baltimore tops the list, mainly because of Jamal Lewis' $760,000 fine in 2004 - without that fine Baltimore would have been 4th on the list.

The Chicago Bears and Tennessee Titans round off the Top 3. The Bears have been receiving much larger fines with almost half the fines the Titans have received.

Highest Fined Teams
Rank Team Amount #
1 Baltimore Ravens $1,373,073 41
2 Chicago Bears $637,000 34
3 Tennessee Titans $630,850 56

Lowest Fined Teams
Rank Team Amount #
1 Kansas City Chiefs $42,875 6
2 Indianapolis Colts $120,375 11
3 San Diego Chargers $129,000 11

Back to Top
Most Fined Players
Rank Player Amount Fines
1 Jamal Lewis (RB) $760,000 1
2 Shaun Rogers $400,000 1
3 Ndamukong Suh $204,000 6
4 Joey Porter $198,676 5
5 Dashon Goldson $171,750 6
Notable Points:
  • 517 different players since 2002 have been fined by the NFL.
  • 15 players have been fined for $100,000+ over their career since 2002.
  • As mentioned above, Jamal Lewis' $760,000 fine (off-field violation) was the largest fine on or off the field in NFL history. Shaun Rogers' fine was also an off- field violation fine.
  • Ndamukong Suh received the largest on-field fine in NFL history ($100,000). This is Suh's 4th year in the league, and has had six fines and leads the league in on-field fines since 2002.
Other players fined more than $100,000
Player Total # of Fines
Brian Urlacher $166,750 5
James Harrison $150,000 6
Chad Johnson $150,000 8
Warren Sapp $145,000 5
Brandon Meriweather $144,500 5
Ed Reed $136,000 4
Vince Wilfork $110,375 7
Bernard Pollard $110,125 5
Cortland Finnegan $100,750 9
DeAngelo Hall $100,750 6

Back to Top
Most Fined Positions
Rank Position Total # of Fines
1 Safeties $2,550,978 147
2 Linebackers $2,150,301 135
3 Defensive Tackles $1,595,276 86
4 Running Backs $1,066,250 32
5 Cornerbacks $1,060,137 83
6 Defensive Ends $1,042,607 84
7 Wide Receivers $918,375 86
Follow Spotrac on Twitter, and keep up with even more on Facebook.

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipisicing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat.…
I'm gonna be sticky!