- Associated Press - Friday, January 7, 2011

NEW YORK (AP) - The NFL has fined Indianapolis Colts linebacker Gary Brackett $35,000 for his hit on Tennessee Titans long snapper Ken Amato in last Sunday’s game, two people with knowledge of the decision told The Associated Press.

The two people said Brackett was notified of the league’s decision Friday. Both requested anonymity because the league had not yet announced the fine.

He was called for an illegal blindside block on Amato as the linebacker ran toward the Colts‘ goal line and hit the long snapper from the side in springing Antoine Bethea for a return off a missed field goal. Titans coach Jeff Fisher called the hit “vicious” and said it cracked Amato’s helmet.

Brackett has now been fined three times this season for illegal hits.

The Colts practiced Friday, but there was no media availability.

Earlier this week, Brackett defended the play, saying “I don’t think it was malicious at all. I think it was just a football play, and I still think I hit him with my shoulder first and the head was secondary.”

The competition committee approved the blocking rule in March 2009, partially as a result of a hit Steelers receiver Hines Ward made against Bengals linebacker Keith Rivers. Rivers broke his jaw on the play. It is considered illegal if the blocker hits another player in the head or neck area with the helmet, forearm or shoulder.

Filling in for his father, Bill Polian, on a weekly radio show Monday night, Colts vice president and general manager Chris Polian said he believed it was the first time the penalty had been called. He did not argue the call.

Clearly, Fisher, who serves on the competition committee, thought officials got it right.

“It was probably one of the most vicious hits that I’ve ever seen, and then to come in (Monday) morning and have the equipment guys bring his helmet to me and the helmet was cracked. You can imagine the impact,” Fisher said earlier this week.

Fisher called the hit unnecessary.

League officials have been imposing stiffer punishments for hits to the head or neck area this season. They have regularly announced fines and have threatened suspensions for habitual offenders.

But no players have yet been suspended and the Colts didn’t expect Brackett to be the first.

“I think our league is fair and equitable,” Colts coach Jim Caldwell said the day after the game. “They will look at it and make a determination on what should be done and we’ll adjust to whatever that is. If we do not agree with it, we will appeal.”


AP Sports Writer Michael Marot in Indianapolis also contributed to this report.

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