ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- Denver Broncos defensive tackle Terrance Knighton, a team captain, was notified by the NFL on Wednesday that he has been fined $11,025 for his unsportsmanlike conduct penalty in Sunday’s game against the New York Jets.
The penalty was assessed on an extra-point play following a 22-yard scoring pass from Peyton Manning to Julius Thomas with 27 seconds remaining in the first half. Knighton, who is not expected to appeal the fine, plays on the interior of the offensive line on extra-point attempts.
In Knighton’s letter from the league, the fine was assessed for "abusive language," which is a point of emphasis for NFL officials this season. During the league meetings this past March and with Michael Sam vying to make an NFL roster as the league’s first openly gay player, the NFL’s competition committee made it clear to owners and coaches that the rules for abusive language would be enforced for racial slurs, comments about sexual orientation or other “verbal abuse."
Knighton told some of his teammates Wednesday the fine was for directing a racial slur at another player.
Knighton’s fine won’t be the only one for the Broncos this week. Linebacker Lamin Barrow was ejected from the game with 30 seconds remaining in the third quarter when he threw a punch at a Jets player following a Broncos kickoff return.
The league’s fine schedule shows a $27,562 penalty for a first offense for “fighting," but there also is a smaller $5,512 fine for “unnecessarily entering fight area (active involvement)."
That incident came when Thomas was caught by network TV on-field microphones firing off a profanity after his 4-yard touchdown catch in the third quarter. Thomas was heard screaming, “It’s so f---ing easy. It’s so easy."
Had Thomas been facing a Jets player at that moment -- he was facing the crowd in the back of the end zone -- he could have been flagged for taunting or unsportsmanlike conduct and been subject to a $8,268 fine for taunting or the $11,025 unsportsmanlike conduct fine.
“I can’t really tell you what I’m going to scream when I’m out there on the field, that’s a different guy," Thomas said when asked about the play Wednesday. “He gets a little excited out there, hopefully the mics won’t be turned up as high and you can just scream whatever you want like you’ve been doing since you were a kid and you don’t have to go home and hear about it.’’