Ask Sam Farmer: What happens to the money from fined players?

Jimmy Graham
Want to know how much this maneuver cost Saints tight end Jimmy Graham? Read the attached story.
(Rogelio Solis / Associated Press)

Have a question about the NFL? Ask Times NFL writer Sam Farmer, and he will answer as many as he can online and in the Sunday editions of the newspaper throughout the season. Email questions to:

Question: What does the NFL do with all the money it collects in player fines?

Scott Beukelman, Cambria

Farmer: First of all, it’s a lot of money. According to, the NFL collected $3,084,960 in fines last season, and through Week 5 this season is at $753,658.


According to league spokesman Michael Signora: “Fines for on-field violations are donated through the NFL Foundation to assist former players in need via the NFL Player Care Foundation and the NFLPA’s Player Assistance Trust.”

When a player is notified he has been fined, he’s also informed where his money is going. The fines come directly out of a player’s salary — paid in 17 checks during the course of the regular season — and fines to coaches are handled the same way.

The NFL doesn’t cater to specific requests, so a player cannot decide which charity should get his fine money, although that’s a fairly common request by players. The heftiest fine for an on-field violation this season? New Orleans tight end Jimmy Graham was docked $30,000 for celebrating a touchdown by dunking on the goal-post crossbar.



Question: Should the NFL mandate drug testing for the owners?

Gene Winner, San Diego

Farmer:  Not a bad idea at all, Gene. And it makes sense because the league’s personal conduct policy applies to everyone in the NFL, and owners should want to set a good example. It’s timely too, with Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay returning Friday from a six-game suspension after pleading guilty to a misdemeanor of driving while intoxicated.

In March, he was pulled over while driving in Carmel, Ind., and arrested. Subsequent toxicology reports showed he had hydrocodone and oxycodone in his system. The league has said Irsay is “subject to ongoing treatment, counseling and testing as determined by medical professionals and the Indiana court.”

Commissioner Roger Goodell has said he subjects himself to drug testing. Earlier this year, New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft told USA Today that he wouldn’t be against the drug testing of owners. Quipped Kraft: “They’d find caffeine and probably a lot of quinoa.”