PITTSBURGH -- The Pittsburgh Steelers are asking the NFL to clarify why Hines Ward, one of the league's best-blocking wide receivers, was fined $15,000 the past two games for unnecessary roughness despite not being penalized.
Also following the Jacksonville game, Steelers linebacker James Harrison was fined $20,000 for criticizing referee Brian Winter for calling a roughing-the-passer penalty against him. Two other Steelers also drew fines for that game, safety Ryan Clark ($7,500) for unnecessary roughness -- a late hit -- and wide receiver Nate Washington ($7,500) for taunting. The one-game fines totaled $45,000 for the four players.
"It's starting to cost too much money to come to work for these guys," coach Mike Tomlin said Tuesday.
Tomlin plans to call the NFL office about the Ward fines, and team chairman Dan Rooney wrote a letter questioning why Ward was fined.
"We want to be a team and he (Ward) wants to be a player who plays the game the way it's supposed to be played, the way our league wants it to be played," Tomlin said. "We respect that. But we need a little clarity in that situation."
Ward has been one of the NFL's most physical receivers since breaking into the league 10 years ago.
"Make no mistake, he plays the wide receiver position different than most people play it," Tomlin said. "He's probably viewed a little different because of it."
Tomlin wouldn't say the league is singling out Ward because of his reputation for not letting up on any play.
"You could say target, but I don't choose to use those words," Tomlin said. "He's a football player first and a wide receiver second. Like I said, it's our goal to play within the rules of the game. We believe we're doing that. He hasn't been penalized."
Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press