NFL fines Panthers safety Martin $40,000 for another illegal hit

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Carolina Panthers safety Sherrod Martin has gone from being featured in an NFL video on illegal hits to paying a hefty price for the league's crackdown on blows to the head.

Martin said Wednesday that the NFL fined him $40,000 for a helmet-to-helmet hit on tight end Evan Moore during Sunday's loss to the Cleveland Browns, with the hefty penalty coming in part because he's a repeat offender.

Martin has been on the NFL's radar since Week 1, when he was docked $5,000 for a hit that gave New York Giants tight end Kevin Boss a concussion. The play was the first example in a video sent to teams as the league later announced increased penalties for dangerous hits.

Now Martin will pay the price for his fourth infraction and ensuing fine for unnecessary roughness in his two-year career. With a base salary of $395,000, the latest fine will cost the 2009 second-round draft pick from Troy nearly two game checks.

Martin declined to comment Wednesday while his teammates expressed dismay at the size of the penalty. Houston Texans wide receiver Andre Johnson and Tennessee Titans cornerback Cortland Finnegan were fined $25,000 each for a wild, helmet-less fight in Sunday's game.

"The man hands them down, and we've got to pay them," cornerback Richard Marshall said.

Coach John Fox shook his head in the locker room as he heard about the fine. Several teammates said Martin had no other choice than to hit Moore high as the tight end came across the middle on a play near the end zone.

"When you start tackling lower, they're going to come up with a rule like that," cornerback Captain Munnerlyn said. "I'm really kind of lost in this situation."

The fine was a hot topic in the locker room of the woeful Panthers (1-10), with many defensive players vowing they won't change their style of play despite the numerous hefty fines.

"If you're thinking about the fine, you're not going to be playing hard. You're going to slow up on some tackles," Munnerlyn said. "That means you've got to keep playing hard, and if the fines come, they're going to come."

Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press

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