DENVER -- The NFL refused Friday to retract wording in a letter to Broncos safety John Lynch that warned he could be ejected for making another
illegal hit like the one that knocked Colts tight end Dallas Clark out of last weekend's game.
The league fined Lynch $75,000 for the helmet-to-helmet hit on Clark.
Along with the fine, NFL disciplinarian Gene Washington sent a letter reprimanding Lynch for the hit and informing him that officials for Sunday's
playoff rematch at Indianapolis have been alerted to keep an eye on Lynch and to eject him if warranted.
Lynch's attorney, Harvey Steinberg, responded with a letter to the NFL appealing the fine and demanding that language threatening ejection be
"We fear that the integrity of this contest will be impacted adversely here by the influence on the impartiality of the officiating crew," Steinberg
wrote in a letter first obtained by the Denver Post.
On Friday, a league spokesman said Art Shell, the NFL's senior vice president of football operations, sent a reply to Steinberg.
"He reviewed his points, believes Gene Washington's letter is appropriate, and therefore will not be making a retraction," the spokesman said.
Union president Gene Upshaw, who received a copy of the letter, had said he wouldn't be surprised if the NFL declined to rescind the language. He was
also pessimistic about the chances of having the fine reduced, based on some of the inflammatory comments Lynch made about the hit after the game.
"Some of the clips that came out with John saying. 'We were sending a message about next week and I'd do it again' -- that didn't help me on my
appeal, I can tell you that," Upshaw said.
After the game, Lynch was anything but apologetic for the hit that bloodied Clark's mouth and left him with a concussion. He said one of the few ways
to stop a team as athletic and fast as the Colts was to be physical with them.
"I don't know about the rest of the guys, but I still think we sent a message today," Lynch said then. "We got some stuff done."
After practice Friday, Lynch declined comment, saying, "It's time to concentrate on football."
Shortly after, however, he went on Jim Rome's syndicated radio show and reiterated comments he made earlier in the week, when he said he felt the
league was tarnishing his reputation by fining him and singling him out. He said the most disturbing part of the letter was the section warning of his
"I think it's unprecedented in this league," Lynch said. "It's never been done. And I think it's real dangerous when you're taking something that is
supposed to be the most impartial part of the game and now, all of the sudden, you're instructing officials to look for someone."
Coach Mike Shanahan said he thought the Colts were partaking in gamesmanship by calling the league after the game and urging Lynch's suspension.
In fact, both teams have been playing the game within the game all week. Broncos defensive backs said this week they would continue to hit hard, just
as they always have.
"We're going to go after them," cornerback Champ Bailey told the Post. "We're not worried about any fine. We'll play punch-them-in-the-mouth football.
I know Lynch; he's not going to shy away from anything. That's his game. He's a hitter."
Presented with the array of comments -- from Lynch, Bailey and safety Kenoy Kennedy -- the Colts challenged the Broncos to bring it on.
Upshaw said he told Lynch that as long as he uses his shoulder to tackle, not the crown of his helmet, he can hit as hard as he wants "and they aren't
going to say a word."
Upshaw said the appeal on the fine will likely be determined after the Super Bowl, probably at league meetings, where Lynch will have a chance to
attend and state his case.
A key part of the appeal is based on the fact that officials initially picked up the flag they had thrown when it appeared Lynch's hit had resulted in
a fumble. Upon review, however, the pass to Clark was ruled incomplete and the penalty was reinstated.
Upshaw said a conversation he had with commissioner Paul Tagliabue led him to believe Lynch has hurt his chances of winning an appeal.
"Paul brought up comments that John made after the game," Upshaw said. "I guarantee you, that's not helping my case."
Steinberg said he didn't anticipate any ruling on the fine before Sunday.
"All I can tell you is I'm hoping he has a big game Sunday, and we'll worry about what to do next after that," he said.