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ASHBURN, Va. -- Washington Redskins safety Brandon Meriweather, who served a one-game suspension Sunday for the way he hits, vowed to begin targeting players' knees and fired a shot at Chicago Bears star receiver Brandon Marshall, saying players who beat their girlfriends should be out of the NFL.
Meriweather has received numerous fines over the years for his helmet-to-helmet hits. After two more incidents against the Bears on Oct. 20, the NFL suspended Meriweather for two games until an appeals process reduced the ban to one.
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?” -- Redskins safety Brandon Meriweather on Bears receiver Brandon Marshall
"I guess I just got to take people's knees out," Meriweather said Monday morning in the Redskins' locker room. "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."
Then Meriweather turned to Marshall and Bears tight end Martellus Bennett, who both publicly criticized the hard-hitting safety last week. Marshall received one of Meriweather's hits in the game on Oct. 20.
"I respect the league trying to better our game," Marshall said after that game. "Guys like that, maybe he needs to get suspended or taken out of the game completely."
Bennett said later in the week that he wanted to punch Meriweather. But Meriweather's ire was directed more at Marshall.
"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," Meriweather said.
Marshall has been arrested multiple times on alleged domestic-abuse charges but has never been convicted.
"You tell me who you'd rather have?" Meriweather said. "Someone who plays aggressive on the field or someone who beat up their girlfriend?"
Redskins coach Mike Shanahan did not approve of Meriweather's comments.
"I'm not sure I would have used those choice of words," Shanahan said.
When contacted by ESPN's Chris Mortensen, the NFL said it was aware of Meriweather's comments, saying that they were inappropriate.
Marshall took to Twitter on Monday shortly after Meriweather's comments.
There is only one way to avoid criticism: do nothing, say nothing, and be nothing #MachineMarshall— Machine Marshall (@BMarshall) October 28, 2013
On ESPN 1000's "Waddle and Silvy Show," Marshall continued to downplay Meriweather's shot at him.
"I'm praying for that guy," Marshall said. "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 laid out like that.
"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."
Meriweather said he thought the appeals process was handled well, citing former NFL coach Ted Cottrell's role in reducing the penalty.
Meriweather was fined $42,000 for a hit against Green Bay Packers running back Eddie Lacy in Week 2. He also was fined $50,000 for a hit in 2010 with New England and accrued $45,000 in fines a year later with Chicago.
"The NFL do what they have to do," Meriweather said. "I guess they felt like suspending me for that game was the right thing to do, so they decided to make an example that they won't tolerate aggressive plays."
Meriweather maintained that he did not use his helmet on either hit against Chicago. That was the case he made during the appeals process, which occurred over the phone.
Meriweather agreed that he did launch into the defender on one hit, though he wasn't sure which one it was. Replays showed that he launched into Marshall after the receiver dropped a pass in the end zone.
"I know everybody's looking at the tape and saying, 'He's a dirty player, he's this, he's that,' which I get," Meriweather said. "But if anyone goes and looks at the tape, I didn't use my head in either hit. I'm moving on from it."
Meriweather said he has changed the way he hits but will have to do so even more now to avoid a worse suspension in the future.
|Redskins safety Brandon Meriweather has a reputation for leading with his helmet on tackles.|
Shanahan said safeties, more than cornerbacks, will attempt to tackle higher, taking runners head-on.
"Nobody's going to try to hurt anybody," Shanahan said. "But if you're going to err on the side of caution, you would rather go low than you would high. Brandon knows that he's got to go lower or he's not going to be playing in the National Football League."
The Redskins say they have focused more on tackling drills the past several weeks, and Meriweather said he'll work harder to stay low.
"Once you do something so much, it becomes habit," Meriweather said. "I think if I go in practice and simulate going low, it'll become habit and I'll be able to do it in a game."
But Meriweather wasn't done.
"They told me to use my shoulder, I use my shoulder. I still get fined and they still say I used my head," he said. "I mean, defenseless running backs ... I never heard of a defenseless running back."