Wednesday, October 20, 2010
Brandon Meriweather apologizes for hits
By Mike Reiss
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- New England Patriots safety Brandon Meriweather, who was fined $50,000 by the NFL for two helmet-to-helmet hits on Baltimore Ravens tight end Todd Heap in Sunday's win over the Ravens, told reporters in the locker room Wednesday that he was "sorry for the hit" and that he wants to move on.
"Once again, I'm going to say I'm sorry for the hit. I understand the league is trying to protect the health of all our players," Meriweather said before a brief pause in which he might have been fighting to keep emotions in check.
"To be honest, I just want all this to go away. I want to focus, with the rest of my team, on the Chargers and really not let this come up again. I'm going to try my best to play within the rules, like my coach had always taught us. I'm going to hit and play the game like my coaches have always taught us. Even in training camp, we have always been taught the proper way to hit. Just focus on that and try to put it in my game in some way, shape or fashion.
"From here on, I'm focusing on the Chargers. Anything else spoken about this, I will not
Meriweather was flagged for a second-quarter hit on Heap, who lay on the field being attended to by Ravens medical personnel for several minutes before getting up under his own power. Heap was leaping for a Joe Flacco pass that had sailed over his head when Meriweather thrust himself, helmet-first, into the Ravens tight end.
Earlier in the game, Meriweather also hit Heap hard near the goal line. He was not penalized for that hit.
After a weekend full of dangerous hits, the NFL announced Tuesday that it will immediately begin suspending players for dangerous and flagrant hits that violate rules, particularly those involving helmets.
Meriweather had said Monday that his hit on Heap was not intentional and that any punishment handed down by the NFL would not alter his aggressive approach to the game.
"I'm going to be aggressive, point blank," Meriweather said during his weekly interview on Boston sports radio station WEEI. "I won't change my game, period. I'm sorry it happened. Heap is actually a real good friend of mine. I talked to him yesterday and let him know it wasn't intentional and he told me he understood."
Meriweather said he went for the hit because he thought Heap was going to come down with the pass.
"We ran that play a thousand times at practice," Meriweather said. "Every time at practice I broke on the ball and the tight end caught it every time. I thought it was going to be overthrown but the tight end always seemed to go and get it. Instead of me waiting for the ball to see if it was going to be overthrown I just attacked. I wasn't trying for head-to-head contact, or trying to injure anybody, or play dirty in any kind of way. It just happened."
Mike Reiss covers the Patriots for ESPN Boston. You can follow him on Twitter.