"Instead of money," Fouts told the website, "I think the punishment should be playing time, because then you get into peer pressure and hurting the general cause of the team. And that's what players don't want to do. You fine these guys a couple of grand, and that's nothing these days. So take away what's most dear to them, and that's playing."
Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker James Harrison and Detroit Lions defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh were suspended for one and two regular season games, respectively, during the 2011 campaign for what the league regarded as unsafe on-field behavior. A league source told NFL.com's Steve Wyche at the time that both players would likely face stiffer suspensions in the future if they continued to flout the rules.
"Three games, four games, five games, six games? It could happen, depending on the circumstance," the source told Wyche. "They are repeat offenders, which means suspensions are more likely."
Harrison has been cited repeatedly for making dangerous plays, forced by the league to pay $45,000 in fines in 2010 for hitting Buffalo Bills quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick and New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees.
Fouts talked to CBSSports.com ahead of speaking at a memorial service for former Chargers linebacker Junior Seau, who committed suicide May 2. Seau's death has prompted many around the league to consider the long-term health ramifications of taking repeated hits. Veteran offensive guard Jacob Bell, for example, told NFL.com's Ian Rapoport that he was inspired to retire from the game and focus on improving the league's approach to player safety.
Fouts also told CBSSports.com that players need to be less determined to shrug off injuries and play on, saying that "the mentality that you can do it yourself -- that you don't need help for whatever it is, because the help is out there -- is a problem. Because, as ballplayers, you have to be so tough and not show weakness ... ever. And I think that has led to some players' demise."