Redskins free safety Brandon Meriweather, reinstated from a week-long suspension on Monday, responded to Bears receiver Brandon Marshall’s insistence that Meriweather be “taken out of the game completely” for his pattern of reckless hits over the years by invoking Marshall’s history of issues with domestic violence.
“Everybody got their opinion,” Meriweather said. “He feel like I need to be kicked out of the league? You know, I feel like people who beat their girlfriends should be kicked out the league, too. So, you tell me who you’d rather have: Somebody who play aggressive on the field, or somebody who beat up their girlfriend? You know, everybody got their opinion, so that’s mine, that’s his.”
Marshall was the subject of a civil suit filed by one of his former girlfriends, Rasheedah Watley, who accused the receiver of battery in separate incidents in 2007 and 2008. That suit was dismissed in court in May 2012.
He was also stabbed by his wife, Michi Nagomi-Marshall, in the stomach in April 2011 – an incident that played a role in his trade from the Dolphins to the Bears shortly thereafter.
Meriweather was suspended for one game by the league last Wednesday after his original two-game suspension was reduced on appeal by arbitrator Ted Cottrell, a former defensive coordinator. He sat out the Redskins’ 45-21 road loss to the Broncos on Sunday.
The suspension was levied after Meriweather, who has repeatedly been fined for hits to the head and neck, failed to curb his behavior. Marshall was the subject of one of Meriweather’s hits – a forearm to the head late in the Redskins’ 45-41 victory over the Bears on Oct. 20.
“The NFL had to do what they have to do, you know?” Meriweather said. “I guess they felt like suspending me for a game was the right thing to do to make an example – that they don’t tolerate aggressive plays.”
Meriweather has maintained that he has changed his tackling style, but said that after the appeal, he’s been convinced the best way to take out a player is by going low.
“To be honest, man, you’ve just got to go low now, man,” Meriweather said. “You’ve got to end people’s careers, you know? You’ve got to tear people’s ACLs and mess up people’s knees now. You can’t hit them high no more. You’ve just got to go low.”
Meriweather argued in his appeal, which was held via teleconference last Wednesday, that he didn’t hit either Marshall or receiver Alshon Jeffery helmet-to-helmet. He also objected to the idea that a running back could be considered a defenseless player; he was fined $42,000 for a helmet-to-helmet hit on Packers running back Eddie Lacy after the teams’ Week 2 game.
Redskins coach Mike Shanahan was asked on Monday specifically about Meriweather’s comments on tackling at an opponents’ knee. He wasn’t thrilled that a player with such a checkered disciplinary track record would speak so openly. It can only get Meriweather in further trouble with the NFL.
“I’m not sure if I would have used those choice of words. I think I would have used different words, obviously,” Shanahan said. “What happens with [defensive backs] a lot of times, when a running back is coming at you, do you hit them low or do you hit them high? Well most of those DBs, especially corners, they go low, and they have to go low…Safeties are a little bit different. They will take people head-on. Now those safeties have to go lower and it’s just part of the game.”
But, Meriweather admitted that he did leave his feet and launch himself into a player on one of the hits in the Bears game – the one on Marshall.
Several of Meriweather’s teammates said last week that Meriweather should change his tackling style. Defensive coordinator Jim Haslett even said he was “concerned with the style of which [Meriweather] was tackling,” and said it’s his responsibility to continue to implore Meriweather to make adjustments.
“I think once you do something so much, it becomes habit, and I think if in practice I simulate going low, I think it’ll become habit and I better do it in the game,” Meriweather said.