Whitner: Powerful hits can be legal, too

Fangio: 'We encourage the guys to play aggressive'

Whitner: Powerful hits can be legal, too
December 26, 2013, 2:00 pm
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Donte Whitner has yet to be fined this season, despite five penalties for personal fouls. (USATSI)

SANTA CLARA -- Safety Donte Whitner believes he should be held up as an example for the rest of the NFL to follow.

Instead, he has been penalized five times this season for what were ruled on the field as illegal hits. Whitner was fined once, but it was overturned on appeal. But it does not mean his name was fully cleared. After all, the opposition still benefited from the penalty yardage.

“I haven’t done anything wrong and it’s hurting our football team,” Whitner said on Thursday.

On Monday, Whitner was penalized for unnecessary roughness on Atlanta running back Steven Jackson. But Whitner was not fined for the hit, he said. It's an indication under closer inspection, Whitner kept it clean with his jarring hit.

“Mainly because it probably looks bad on the football field when you’re out there,” Whitner said. “Even talking to coach (Ed) Donatell and coach Vic (Fangio), you have to have a poster boy in the National Football League that can still hit hard and do it the right way and show people how to do it the right way. And even if it looks bad, it’s not bad.

“It’s the shoulder. It’s not launching. It’s not using the crown of my helmet. It’s playing the game the way it’s supposed to be played and trying to tweak it in those really, really fast moments when you hit a guy.”

The NFL fined Whitner $21,000 for his hit against St. Louis Rams wide receiver Chris Givens that broke up a touchdown in the Week 4 game. Whitner won his appeal, and no money was deducted from his paycheck.

“But if you look at every hit, that’s the way you should play football,” Whitner said. “You lead with your shoulder. Just because it’s a powerful hit, doesn’t mean it’s an illegal hit. This is football. Now, if I’m going in there and hitting people in their helmet, and going helmet to helmet, that’s wrong and that should be flagged.

“But if you’re doing the right way and hitting them in the right area, it shouldn’t matter how powerful the hit is, it should not be a flag and it should not be penalized out of check for it. And I haven’t. I haven’t given up one dollar this year on five or six personal fouls.”