NFL Fines Damien Robinson $20,000

Wednesday, November 7th 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

HEMPSTEAD, N.Y. (AP) _ The $20,000 fine the NFL imposed on Damien Robinson might be the least of his troubles. Keeping his job as a New York Jets safety could be a bigger concern.

After announcing Wednesday that the league fined Robinson for twisting the facemask of Saints quarterback Aaron Brooks and sparking a melee near the end of Sunday's win at New Orleans, Jets coach Herman Edwards hinted Robinson is on shaky ground.

The league fine came a month after a $30,000 fine the team imposed on Robinson after he was arrested outside Giants Stadium for having an assault rifle and ammunition in the trunk of his car.

``He's got to conduct himself,'' Edwards said. ``They say everything in life comes in threes. It better not. If it comes in threes, we have issues.''

Edwards was incensed at the way Robinson, a player he personally recruited from Tampa Bay as a free agent, let down the Jets organization.

``We've got to do it right,'' Edwards said. ``This can't keep happening on our team. That goes for anyone in the organization _ it means the trainer, it means me.

``Whatever you do is a reflection on who you work for, so you've got to do it right. You have to live your whole life like that as a human being. Is it hard? Yes.

``I've got to write letters on stuff I didn't get involved in, but that's OK. I'll take the bullets. I'm the head coach. But it's bad for the game.''

Robinson immediately was flagged for his actions, but then Saints tackle Kyle Turley dived into the pile, slammed Robinson's head into the ground and removed the safety's helmet. Turley threw the helmet upfield, made an obscene gesture and was ejected from the Saints' 16-9 loss.

Turley was fined $25,000 by the Saints on Tuesday.

``It was not anything done intentionally to Aaron,'' Robinson said Wednesday. ``It was a mistake on my part. He's good people and I would never try to endanger anyone's career.

``I've got to stay focused and not let this get out of hand. These things are a part of life and you can't let things like that keep you down. Situations come up in life that you've got to deal with. ``

Robinson said he may appeal the fine, although he understood why it was imposed.

``I understand the league has a certain image it is trying to uphold,'' he said. ``But there is the perception _ that Damien Robinson was trying to hurt the quarterback _ and the reality that I was just trying to play football and stop him from getting a first down.''

Gene Washington, the NFL's director of football operations, certainly didn't see reality the same way Robinson did.

In his letter to Robinson, Washington wrote, ``you grabbed him (Brooks) by his face mask and repeatedly pulled and twisted it violently and unnecessarily.''

``Any act irrelevant to the game of football that appears intended to create an unnecessary risk of injury to an opposing player will result in a level of discipline substantially higher than normal fine levels, whether or not the individual is a repeat offender.''

Edwards sent a letter to Saints coach Jim Haslett expressing his unhappiness about the end of Sunday's game.

``I told Jim I don't condone what Damien did,'' Edwards said. ``How we conduct ourselves as coaches and players is vital. We didn't conduct ourselves the right way at the end of the game. He represents the football team and this organization, and it's not just him.

``You've got to go by the rules and respect the game, and when you do not do that, it bothers me.''