Mike Mitchell calls out Roger Goodell

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Carolina Panthers safety Mike Mitchell called out the NFL and commissioner Roger Goodell on Monday for making him a target for fines.

Mitchell was fined $7,875 for taunting on a fourth-quarter play in which St. Louis Rams quarterback Sam Bradford suffered a season-ending knee injury in an Oct. 20 game at Bank of America Stadium.

"Roger being Roger, I guess," Mitchell said. "To be honest, I think there is a little bit of a targeting system they have out. I think I'm one of the guys they'd been looking for, but I'm OK with that."

Mitchell said it was his fifth fine of the year, including the preseason, totaling close to $45,000. Asked where the fines went, Mitchell stared into a television camera and said, "Right in Roger's pocket. Right in his pocket. On camera, right in his pocket is where it's going."

Mitchell said two of the fines came on plays in which he wasn't penalized, including his shove that sent Bradford out of bounds.

After the play, Mitchell stood on the sideline with his arms spread wide, unaware that Bradford was injured. He said he did the same thing earlier in the game but believes the fine came because it involved a "big-name quarterback."

"So obviously there is a bias there, there was a quarterback injured on the play and they want to fine me for that," Mitchell said. "If you're going to fine me for the act, then fine me for both of them. Since you didn't, though, Roger, don't come back and try to fine me."

Goodell is not involved in the fines process. Merton Hanks, the NFL's vice president for football operations, handles on-field discipline decisions.

The commissioner also does not collect fines. All fines are collected by the league and donated through the NFL Foundation to assist former players in need via the NFL Care Foundation and the NFLPA's Player Assistance Trust.

Mitchell signed a one-year deal with the Panthers (4-3) in March after spending the past four seasons at Oakland, where he was a second-round pick out of Ohio in 2009. He said he's been fined more than 10 times during his career, citing the 2010 rule change in which officials began cracking down on the hitting of defenseless players.

"I'm just being targeted because I play football and am physical," Mitchell said. "I'm not out here cheap-shotting guys or doing dirty plays like you've seen people from Detroit do. I'm not going to name any names, but I'm not out here doing those things, so why I'm getting fined I have no idea.

"I'm going to keep playing my game. It's working for our defense. As long as I'm not getting penalties, then I'm fine with this."

Carolina coach Ron Rivera wouldn't address whether Mitchell has been made a target, but he likes the toughness his free safety brings to the defense ranked No. 3 in the NFL.

"Mike plays very hard, physical football," Rivera said of Mitchell, who moved to free safety after Charles Godfrey suffered a season-ending Achilles injury in Week 2. "He has a great style, a great brand. It's spreading among our players in terms of being physical football players.

"He's done a great job for us. I appreciate what he's doing for us as far as our defense is concerned."

Mitchell said he's made an effort to cut back on the personal fouls that in the past have hurt the team and earned him a reputation.

"The coaches and my teammates know who I am, know the type of player I am, and I've definitely cut down on the personal foul penalties," he said. "So as long as I'm not getting flags that are hurting the team ... Like I said, they have a little bit of a target on me. As long as it's not hurting our team, I don't mind."

In other words, Mitchell expects more fines this season.

"Well, there's going to be," he said. "We have nine games left. I'm not going to change the way that I play. I'm not getting penalties, I'm not playing dirty, I'm not hitting anyone to the head. If you want to fine me on these little judgmental things, keep them coming. It's a write-off."