By Janie McCauley Associated Press
SANTA CLARA, Calif. — San Francisco safety Donte Whitner is challenging Drew Brees to come beat the 49ers fair and square — and Whitner hopes that happens in a playoff date in January.
Whitner is still irked that officials called linebacker Ahmad Brooks for a personal foul on Brees late in a 23-20 loss at New Orleans on Nov. 17, and on Wednesday he called for the NFL to take a stand on replay for some illegal hit penalties.
“We look at him as being one of the greats, but come and beat us, come and win a football game, don’t take that one,” Whitner said Wednesday. “They didn’t earn that football game. We felt like we had an opportunity to win it, we felt like we outplayed them and we felt like we should have won. Hopefully, we’ll see them again. … Drew Brees and those guys are over there celebrating. We kind of have a formula against those guys and hopefully we’ll see them again in the playoffs.”
What would have been a lost fumble instead kept the ball in the Saints’ possession, and they soon kicked two late field goals to win the game.
Brooks, who has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing on the play, was fined $15,570 by the league last week and appealed.
Whitner insists Brees “can’t take a hit” and that the call cost his team the game.
“I knew it was going to cost us a game at some point. And it’s going to cost another team a game when it really matters,” Whitner said. “And it might be the playoffs. It could be the Super Bowl. We really need to get something done about that — replay, something — so it doesn’t cost us football games. Because we really deserved to win that game.”
Brees, whose chin was bloodied when Brooks clobbered him, called it a clothesline tackle. Brees was unavailable to respond to Whitner’s remarks Wednesday as the Saints were off.
“We’re out there working for nothing. There’s no explanation,” Whitner said. “There’s nobody to actually sit down and tell you what’s right and what’s wrong. It’s like, ‘OK, take this fine.’ And then you take this fine and that’s it. So that’s not right because he did everything that he was supposed to do. It’s not his fault that Drew Brees is a little guy and can’t really take a hit.”
Asked to clarify, Whitner said, “I’m not questioning his toughness (but) his stature.”
Whitner said he believes he won his appeal of a $21,000 fine for a hit in the end zone on Rams wideout Chris Givens with just less than six minutes remaining in a 35-11 Week 4 win at St. Louis. He would just like to hear a formal answer from the NFL, which has yet to take his money.
“I did everything correct. I actually felt like I put myself in harm’s way, turning my neck and not really doing what I’m supposed to do,” Whitner said. “The contact could have been a lot worse than it actually was than if I really went at the guy, and I didn’t do that. We didn’t feel that was fair. I didn’t get the money taken and hopefully we’ll hear back now.”