Panthers Mitchell: I’m being ‘targeted’ by Goodell

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) - Panthers free safety Mike Mitchell said he’s being “targeted” by Commissioner Roger Goodell after receiving his fifth fine of the season from the NFL.

Mitchell was fined $7,875 last week by the league for taunting after he shoved Rams quarterback Sam Bradford out of bounds during a game on Oct. 20. Bradford suffered a season-ending knee injury on the play.

Mitchell wasn’t penalized for taunting in the game.

“I’m being targeted because I play football physical, but I’m not out here cheap-shoting guys and doing dirty plays like I’ve seen people from Detroit do,” Mitchell said. “I’m not going to name names. But I’m not out here doing those things so why I’m getting fined I really have no idea.”

Mitchell went on to say that the fine money “goes right in Roger’s pockets _ right in his pocket.”

NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy said Goodell does not make the decisions regarding on-field infractions.

League policy states that the officiating department reviews every play of every game and then passes along suspect plays to executive vice president of football operations Ray Anderson and vice president of football operations Merton Hanks, who then make the decision to discipline a player for an on-field violation.

“As far as our office singling out specific players, (the) enforcement of rules, including discipline, is based on actions,” McCarthy said in an email to The Associated Press. “Repeat offenses result in increased discipline. That has always been part of the system to create the proper deterrent to violations of rules.”

NFL policy also states that money collected from player fines is donated through the NFL Foundation to various programs, including those to assist former players.

Mitchell has been a valuable addition to the Panthers defense since coming to Carolina as unrestricted free agent from the Oakland Raiders.

He’s brought big-play ability and aggressiveness to a young and inexperienced secondary.

Mitchell is third on the team in tackles with 30 and has three interceptions, two forced two fumbles and two sacks in seven games.

Coach Ron Rivera said he’s been pleased with what Mitchell’s contributions to the league’s third-ranked defense.

Mike plays very hard, physical football and has a great style, and he’s got a great brand” of football, Rivera said. “It’s spreading among our players in terms of them being physical football players. And he’s done a great job for us and I most certainly do appreciate what he’s doing for our defense.”

Mitchell said he’s appealed all four previous fines this season and at least two have been reduced.

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