Fellow Washington Redskins defensive backs expressed support Wednesday for suspended safety Brandon Meriweather.
Cornerbacks DeAngelo Hall and Josh Wilson said they do not believe that Meriweather, who was suspended for two games by the league Monday after being penalized twice Sunday for illegal hits on Chicago Bears receivers, is trying to hurt opposing players. Hall and Wilson also fired back at Bears wide receiver Brandon Marshall and tight end Martellus Bennett for public comments they made about Meriweather.
“I don’t agree with other players coming out and saying things,” Wilson said. “It’s football, man. You signed up to play football. You signed up to get hit. Nobody is hitting and purposely trying to hurt anybody. Brandon is not that type of guy. He’s not that type of man. I don’t agree with other players coming and calling him out. He’s not a dirty guy.
“We wouldn’t call [former NFL safeties] Steve Atwater… Ronnie Lott or John Lynch a dirty guy. Those guys played football and that’s what we grew up watching. A guy comes and says he’s gonna punch you in the face, I don’t think that’s the way to handle a situation either. I don’t agree with the players coming out against him like he’s just a bad guy.”
Marshall said after Sunday’s game that Meriweather “needs to get suspended or taken out of the game completely.” Bennett said during a radio interview Monday, “I still want to punch him in the face.”
Hall said Wednesday of the Bears’ public comments: “That’s just something you don’t do. At the end of the day, nobody is out there trying to purposely hurt somebody else. Brandon Marshall and Brandon Meriweather grew up together. They’ve got a relationship beyond football. So I’m pretty sure B. Marsh, if he had to think about what he said, he probably wouldn’t have said [it] that way.
“And Martellus, I don’t know him personally, but he had a chance to say whatever he wanted to during the game, after the game, and the kid didn’t open his mouth. So no respect for a guy who wants to take a shot after the fact. If you want to take a shot, take a shot when you’re right there. No respect for a guy like that.”
Of Marshall’s comment that Meriweather perhaps should be kicked out of the league, Wilson said: “Brandon Marshall should be kicked out of the league for pushing off every time he gets to the top of the route. Every time a receiver comes in and cracks my safety, he should be kicked out of the league. The guy that hit Reed Doughty on the kickoff, when I can hear it from the sideline, nobody says anything about punching him in the face. You know, like, come on, man. That has nothing to do with anybody trying to do anything, having a vendetta against anybody. It’s not. We’re just out there trying to play football the best way we know how. Let the league decide what they’re gonna do. Let the refs throw the flags. And let’s just play the game.”
Meriweather’s appeal of his suspension was to be heard Wednesday. He was penalized Sunday for hits on Bears wide receivers Alshon Jeffery and Marshall.
“He’s out there playing football,” Wilson said. “The one with Jeffery — believe me, I had a front-row view. Jeffery has got his feet down, looked right at him and he hit him in the chest. I can’t say that’s a guy trying to be a bad guy. The one with Marshall, I’m again right there. Marshall ducks down. It’s hard to readjust. As a defensive player, when you’ve already decided that you’re gonna try to dislodge the ball through hitting the guy as hard as you can because that’s what we’re paid to do, when a guy ducks down, it’s hard to readjust. I can’t say that Brandon was trying to hurt anybody on any of these plays.
“That’s the league we live in right now. And we’ve got to understand that. You’ve just got to adjust. I feel like [Meriweather] is. He’s trying to be a better player, not doing the things he did in the past. But sometimes it’s hard to lose that reputation that he had.”
Said Hall: “I didn’t think the first one was a bad play at all. I didn’t think the second one was as outrageous as I think a lot of people think. I don’t think it was a hard hit at all…. Our guy [Doughty] got hit a lot harder than that in the game on an onside kick. If we want to protect guys, we need to protect every single player on the football field and not just the receivers or the tight ends or the quarterback. If it’s about protecting football players, we need to protect everybody because we get hit just as hard as a lot of other guys out there. But we don’t get any flags. We don’t get any sympathy for it. We just get up and keep trying to play or we sit out with concussions like Reed is doing today.”
Doughty, a Redskins safety, suffered a concussion Sunday on an onside kick by the Bears.
“I thought it was a little harsh,” Hall said of Meriweather’s suspension. “I don’t like to throw any other players under the bus. But there’s definitely been some other players out there who have made some pretty outrageous hits and plays and haven’t been suspended. So he’ll appeal it and hopefully we can get him back.”
Wilson said he does not take issue with the league’s efforts to promote player safety.
“I understand safety,” Wilson said. “I get safety. I understand what the league is doing. I just don’t agree with players coming out and trying to regulate the game. Let’s play the game. I understand they want to make it a better league. But I don’t think Brandon is a bad guy, a dirty guy or anything like that. I feel like we grew up watching guys play football and that’s how we learned how to play football. And now we just have to adjust to what it is. It’s not that he’s trying to hurt anybody. It’s just a different way we have to play football these days.”
Asked whether Meriweather is having a more difficult time than other players are adjusting to that “different way” of playing, Wilson said: “I think he is adjusting. Everybody else is having a harder time believing that he’s trying to be a better player. He’s not head-hunting out there any more. It’s hard for people to believe he’s not the same guy he was when he first got in the league.”
Have a Redskins question? E-mail Mike Jones at firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject line “Mailbag question” for him to answer it in The Mailbag on Tuesdays.
● Robert Griffin III and Mike Shanahan speak to reporters today.
More on the Redskins: