Packers linebacker Clay Matthews has been fined $15,000 for his hit on 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick in last Sunday’s season opener, according to NFL Network’s Albert Breer.
Following Matthews’ hit on Kaepernick near the sideline, chaos ensued after the whistle, prompting 49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh to open his mouth.
“I could see two punches thrown to Joe’s head,” Harbaugh said, according to the USA Today. “Well, one punch and one open slap.”
But Harbaugh didn’t stop there. He corrected himself and threw a jab of his own in Matthews’ direction.
“If you’re going to go to the face, come with some knuckles, not an open slap,” Harbaugh said. “That young man works very hard on being a tough guy. He’ll have some repairing to do to his image after the slap.”
If Matthews is going to take advice from anyone, it likely wouldn’t be Harbaugh who once fractured his hand in a fist fight with quarterback-turned broadcaster Jim Kelly. Packers head coach Mike McCarthy brought up Harbaugh’s comments in team meetings, while Matthews offered a short yet strong response to the 49ers controversial coach.
“I’m an awesome player, not a dirty player,” Matthews said, per the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel.
According to beat writer Tyler Dunne, Matthews reluctantly responded to the Harbaugh question after several attempts to move on to questions regarding the next game. But nonetheless, his answer was awesome. In a league polluted with “coach speak” in which athletes talk a lot but say very little, it’s refreshing to hear a high-profile athlete answer in a bold, Thad Castle-type manner.
Note: Comparing the Green Bay Packers to the Blue Mountain State Goats is foolish. Almost as foolish as calling Clay Matthews a dirty player.
Matthews, himself, admitted that he was wrong to hit Kaepernick as the quarterback neared the out of bounds line.
“It wasn’t a very smart play,” Matthews said, per the Green Bay Press-Gazette. “I had already committed to hitting the quarterback, and I guess I should have figured he was going to step out of bounds.”
Nonetheless, Matthews’ reputation is certainly in much better shape that that of, say, Lions defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh, who was fined $100,000 for his low block on Vikings center John Sullivan. But as Breer tweeted, comparing Matthews to Suh is apples-to-oranges…or apples-to-giraffes.