ASHBURN, Va. (AP) — After saying he's going to "take peoples' knees out" to avoid another suspension for hits to the head, Washington Redskins safety Brandon Meriweather struck another blow — declaring that "people who beat their girlfriends should be kicked out of the league."
Meriweather's comments were a retort referencing the checkered domestic violence past of Chicago Bears receiver Brandon Marshall, who last week suggested that players such as Meriweather should perhaps be "taken out of the game completely" to make the game safer.
"Everybody got their opinion," Meriweather said Monday. "If he feel like, you know, I need to be kicked out of the league, I feel like people who beat their girlfriends should be kicked out of the league, too. You tell me who you'd rather have — somebody who plays aggressive on the field, or somebody who beat up their girlfriend?"
Marshall's career has occasionally been overshadowed by off-the-field troubles, including multiple arrests following confrontations with a girlfriend when he was playing for the Denver Broncos. None of the arrests led to a conviction.
Marshall declined comment when approached by reporters in the Bears' locker room on Monday. Shortly after Meriweather's comments, he tweeted: "There is only one way to avoid criticism: do nothing, say nothing, and be nothing."
Marshall addressed the matter briefly later in an appearance on ESPN 1000.
"He actually reached out to me last week, and I told him that I was more concerned about him and his health," Marshall said, "because I think a few weeks before our game I saw him lying on the field just out cold. It was a scary situation. I never want to see him or any player laid out like that.
"As far as what he said today, you can only pray for someone with those feelings. So that's all I have to say about that."
Monday was Meriweather's first day back with the Redskins following a one-game suspension for multiple helmet-first hits against defenseless receivers, including two in the Redskins' win over the Bears last week. One of the hits was against Marshall in the end zone on an incomplete pass in the fourth quarter.
Meriweather, who was fined for a helmet-first hit against the Green Bay Packers earlier in this season, was initially suspended for two games by the NFL. He had the sanction cut in half after an appeal.
Asked if he plans to change how he plays, Meriweather said: "I guess I've just got to take people's knees out. I'd hate to end a guy's career over a rule, but I guess it's better (for something to happen to) other people than me getting suspended for longer."
"You've just got to go low now," he said. "You've got to end people's career. You've got to tear people's ACLs and mess up people's knees now. You can't hit 'em high anymore."
Asked for his reaction to Meriweather's comments about aiming for the knees, Redskins coach Mike Shanahan said: "I'm not sure if I would have used those choice of words."
"Brandon knows that he's got to go lower," Shanahan said, "or he's not going to be playing in the National Football League. ... Now the safeties have to go lower. It's just part of the game. Nobody's going to try to hurt anybody. But if you're going to err on the side of caution you'd rather go low than you would high."
Meriweather said earlier this season that he had changed his approach to hitting receivers, yet he was still getting flagged.
"I just have to change more now," he said. "They told me to use my shoulder; I used my shoulder — I still get fined. They still say I used my head. ... Everybody is looking at the tape and saying, 'Oh, he's a dirty player, he's this, he's that,' which I get, but the thing about it — go look at the tape. I didn't use my head in either hit, and I'm moving on from it."
Meriweather conceded that he did launch himself at one of the defensive receivers against the Bears, another no-no as the league tries to cut down on injuries.
Meriweather said attacking receivers' knees will require some practice.
"Once you do something so much, it becomes habit," he said. "And I think if in practice I simulate going low, I think it'll become habit and I'll be able to do it in the game."
Associated Press freelance writer Gene Chamberlain in Lake Forest, Ill., contributed to this report.
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