Ahmad Brooks isn't exactly sure what he's going to say when he appeals the $15,725 fine for his hit on Saints quarterback Drew Brees. But he tested a few sentences today on reporters and even asked for a show of hands on who thought it was illegal. (He received mixed results).
"I didn't intentionally mean to knock him out like that, but that's part of the game," Brooks said. "I mean, I didn't hit him in the head. I mean, you can argue that maybe I got him in the neck a little bit. But it was really in the chest, in the collarbone area."
The hit has put a national spotlight on Brooks, the most anonymous member of a recognized 49ers linebacking corps. "This is the most publicity I've ever had off of one game," he said.
He's also gotten support from retired linebackers like Ray Lewis and Tedy Bruschi, who are now ESPN analysts and who have offered to pay a portion of Brooks' fine. Bruschi, in fact, called Brooks Wednesday to reiterate his offer.
"He said he was going to make a donation," Brooks said. "I said, 'You don't have to do it. I'm a grown man, I can take care of it.'" He's also declined Lewis' offer but said he appreciates the gesture and the linebacker solidarity.
The league, which has made discouraging illegal hits to the quarterback paramount in recent years, is unlikely to back down from its stance that Brooks' blow on Brees, which occurred late in Sunday's game, was against the rules. The NFL's head of officiating, Dean Blandino, has said that even though, as Brooks has argued, the initial hit was to the chest, Brooks' arm eventually made its way to Brees' chin and neck. Brees was bleeding from his lower lip after the play.
Brooks' main argument that the rules protecting quarterbacks have "watered down" the league has struck a chord with fans and fellow defensive players. But he probably needs to fine tune his word choice in order to win an appeal.
He said that he didn't hit Brees in the head but rather "clotheslined" the quarterback, which also is illegal under NFL rules. "And by him falling and him being 5-11, 6-foot, it just made it look like I hit him in the neck," Brooks said.
"That's part of the game," he said of the rough-and-tumble nature of the sport. "Even a child that plays in Pewee football, Pop Warner football - they have concussions. You know what I mean? I mean, that's just how we were taught growing up. And for them to try to change it when somebody is 25 years old, I mean you have to pretty much re-teach yourself how to hit."
Brooks also was fined for a late hit on Green Bay's Aaron Rodgers in Week 1. He said he appealed it himself but didn't win.
-- Matt Barrows