At first, Chris Conte thought it was one of his teammates playing a joke on him.
The Chicago Bears free safety received a notice that he was being fined $21,000 for a blow to the head of a defenseless receiver. Conte was called for a penalty last week after hitting Carolina Panthers wide receiver Brandon LaFell in the head. LaFell is unlikely to play Sunday at Washington because of post-concussion symptoms.
But Conte didn’t look like he was attempting to make a knockout shot. So, when a fine showed up for him, he didn’t believe it, especially considering the fine is more than 75 percent of his weekly game check.
“I thought someone was playing a joke on me at first,” Conte said. “I didn't think it was real at first. I thought it was a prank. I know (kicker) Robbie (Gould) has done it a few times to guys, or they'll make up a fake email or something and it will be like, you got fined for whatever. And that's what I thought it was. And then I looked on the Web site and it wasn't a joke. I was a little surprised because I was expecting a FedEx (notice) to come and then I just saw a piece of paper that was just like an e-mail and that's why I thought someone was playing a joke on me. But it was no joke. That's for sure.
“It hurts a lot. That's a big chunk of the money that I make and I think it's kind of unfair to fine a guy that is still in his rookie contract that much money but hopefully they'll look at it and at least get it reduced.”
Conte said he is appealing the fine and he’s not going to change his style of play.
“Not at all,” he said. “I don't think you can let it affect you. You've got to play football the way you play football and be aggressive and I guess these things are just a part of the NFL now and it comes with the job.”
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Brad Biggs covers the Bears for the Chicago Tribune