- John Keim, ESPN Staff Writer
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DeMaurice Smith said Washington Redskins safety Brandon Meriweather is sorry for comments he made Monday, directing ire over his suspension to the league's rules and Chicago Bears receiver Brandon Marshall.
Smith, the NFL Players Association's executive director, issued a statement Thursday, saying he spoke with Meriweather after the player made his inflammatory comments.
Meriweather, who was suspended one game for repeated illegal hits, said Monday that "I guess I just got to take people's knees out. That's the only way. I would hate to end a guy's career over a rule, but I guess it's better other people than me getting suspended for longer. You just have to go low now, man. You've got to end people's careers. You got to tear people's ACLs and mess up people's knees. You can't hit them high anymore."
"I spoke to Brandon. He is passionate about the game, and I know he is sorry for what he said," Smith said in his statement. "He is concentrating on helping his team win the rest of the season. Brandon knows that all players have a responsibility to each other and to play within the rules of the game."
Asked Thursday about Smith's statement, Meriweather said he had no comment.
A source told ESPN NFL Insider Ed Werder earlier this week that the NFL will not discipline Meriweather for his comments but will closely monitor his play on the field as he returns from his one-game suspension.
NFL vice president of football operations Merton Hanks said in a statement Thursday that he also has spoken with Meriweather about his comments.
"We have no higher priority than player health and safety," Hanks said in a statement, according to USA Today Sports. "Recent comments by Brandon Meriweather call into question his commitment to that objective and were clearly inappropriate.
"I have spoken with Brandon and he understands what is expected of him as an NFL player, which includes avoiding any acts that unnecessarily and unreasonably endanger the welfare of other players."
Redskins defensive coordinator Jim Haslett defended Meriweather on Thursday.
"Brandon's a good guy," he said. "He's a good person. I don't think he'll do anything that harms the team. He said something out of emotion, the way he felt. But just knowing Brandon and the way he practiced [Wednesday] ... he'll stay within the rules and do what's best. He's not going to try and hurt our football team."
On Monday, when he was asked for his thoughts on Marshall saying that Meriweather should be suspended or even kicked out of the league, the safety said: "He feels like I need to be kicked out of the league? I feel like people who beat their girlfriends should be kicked out of the league too. You tell me who you'd rather have: someone who plays aggressive on the field or someone who beat up their girlfriend?"
Marshall, who was on the end of one of Meriweather's flagged hits, has been arrested multiple times for domestic violence. Following the arrests, Marshall was acquitted or no charges were filed.
Later Monday, Marshall told ESPN 1000's Waddle and Silvy Show that he is praying for Meriweather and that the two are simply on "different pages" when it comes to player safety.
"He actually reached out to me last week, and I told him that I was more concerned about him and his health, because I think a few weeks before our game I saw him lying on the field just out cold. It was a scary situation. I never want to see him or any player lay out like that," Marshall said. "As far as what he said today, you can only pray for someone with those feelings. So that's all I have to say about that."
ESPNChicago.com's Jeff Dickerson contributed to this report.
2dDoug Clawson, ESPN Stats & Information