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Mac Jones on “dirty player” narrative: “Everybody has an opinion”

Mike Florio and Chris Simms evaluate Mac Jones’ illegal hit against Eli Apple, which the NFL will fine the QB $11,139 for, and explain why there’s no excuse for a dirty play like that.

Patriots quarterback Mac Jones met with reporters on Wednesday, for the first time since news emerged of a fine in the amount of $11,139 for a low block on Bengals cornerback Eli Apple. Jones was asked for his reaction to the narrative that Jones is “potentially a dirty player,” based on the hit to Apple and an incident in 2021 with Panthers defensive end Brian Burns.

“Everybody has an opinion and the biggest thing for me is focusing on being the best teammate I can be and earning the respect of the people in this building and the people I care about,” Jones said. “Obviously, I have respect for everybody around the league. It takes a lot to get to this league. There’s really good players out there, and we’re all playing hard and trying to win. At the end of the day, you have to keep that in mind. It’s a game and you want to just have fun, enjoy it and compete against each other. That’s something that I’ve always done and I know my teammates appreciate that about me. So, [I’m] excited about the opportunity this week. Obviously, a great team we get to go against. Another opportunity, you don’t know how many more you’re going to get with this group of guys. That’s what it’s all about, is the players in our locker room and on our team. Excited, great day of practice today and obviously need to build on it and stack up these days.”

It’s hardly a denial or a repudiation of the perception of dirty play. Most of the response, frankly, was non-responsive.

Jones also was asked whether he plans to appeal the fine. Again, he wasn’t very responsive in his response.

“Really just focused on this week and let everybody else handle that stuff for me,” Jones said. “I’m focused on this week and doing my job. That’s the important part, is every week you look at the game film of the game you just played and then you try to find out what you can do better. I’m kind of in that process right now of what can I do better and how can I execute my job better.”

While players routinely appeal fines, it’s hard to imagine this one having success. Jones blatantly violated the rule against low hits. The fine is warranted. And it won’t be a surprise if the league starts paying closer attention to Jones after apparently giving him the benefit of the doubt when he twisted the ankle of Brian Burns last year and stuck a foot in the crotch of Bears safety Jaquan Brisker at the end of a slide earlier this season.