Diontae Johnson needs to dig up his checkbook because he owes the NFL some money.
According to ProFootballTalk, the Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver has been fined $25,000 for comments he made following the team's 20-10 loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars in Week 8. He blamed the referees for the loss, and was so upset he implied they took money under the table to make calls against the Steelers.
"Refs were just killing us the whole game," Johnson said via ESPN. "The same refs we had at training camp. I didn't like the refs today. At the end of the day, we can't keep complaining about the refs. Like Coach [Mike Tomlin] say, we can't worry about the refs, whatever. But everybody's different.
"I didn't like the refs today. They must've got paid good today or something, but they blew — that field goal, that hurt us coming into the half. We needed that."
Johnson's main issue was with a penalty that came right before halftime. Steelers kicker Chris Boswell nailed a 55-yard field goal to get the Steelers within three points of the Jags, but the refs called offsides and the play was negated. On the second try (but with a few more yards added to the distance), Boswell couldn't get the ball through the uprights.
The NFL holds coaches and players to different standards when it comes to officiating criticism. Coaches really have to watch what they say about officiating because the NFL has little to no tolerance for head coach backtalk. By contrast, the NFL isn't as hard on players, who have more freedom with what they say about referees.
But when a player implies that the refs were taking bribes or getting paid extra for making calls against a particular team? The NFL does not like that. Unless he wants to again send the NFL the monetary equivalent of a 2024 Toyota Corolla, Johnson will probably think twice about doing that again.