After a Monday nighter that was filled with vicious and brutal hits, the NFL has disciplined two players, giving the Steelers’ JuJu Smith-Schuster a one game suspension, and the Bengals’ George Iloka a $36,000 fine, which was reduced from a suspension.
But is it enough?
The Monday nighter between the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Cincinnati Bengals saw two different players be carried off on stretchers, and one player taken to a local hospital.
Some injuries were results of routine hits that went wrong, others — not so much.
Smith-Schuster landed a hard hit to the head of the Bengal’s Vontez Burfict. After landing the hit Smith-Schuster proceeded to stand over Burfict and taunt him. It was a clear hit to the head, which is something that calls for immediate action in a league like the NHL.
After the game, Smith-Schuster felt he should’ve held back.
NFL Vice President of football operations, Jon Runyan explained his decisions.
“You are suspended for the dangerous and unsportsmanlike acts you committed during the fourth quarter of last night’s game… specifically, with 7:10 remaining, on a passing play to a running back, you lined up a defender and delivered a violent and unnecessary blindside shot to his head and neck area. You then ‘celebrated’ the play by standing over him and taunting him. The contact you made with your opponent placed the opposing player at risk of serious injury and could have been avoided. – Jon Runyan, NFL Vice President of football operations.
George Iloka’s suspension was after Steelers’ star wide receiver Antonio Brown scored the game-tying touchdown.
Though Runyan explained his reasoning for the Iloka suspension, it would later be reduced to a fine of $36,000.
“You violently struck a defenseless receiver in the head and neck area… the Competition Committee has clearly expressed its goal of ‘eliminating flagrant hits that have no place in our game’ and has encouraged the league office to suspend offenders for egregious violations such as the one you committed last night.” – Jon Runyan, NFL Vice President of football operations.
Many players are disappointed at the leagues inconsistency of discipline. Pittsburgh safety Mike Mitchell talked about his displeasure with the calls in the game.
“I signed up to play full speed, contact football, and I feel like we’re not doing that. I feel like I have to ask a guy, ‘hey are you ready for me to hit you right now before I hit you?'” – Mike Mitchell, Pittsburgh Steelers
TSN’s Farhan Lalji, who is a local football coach with a New Westminster high school, thinks the NFL needs to do more to stop head injuries.
“I think there needs to be longer suspensions. I appreciate the challenge the CBA and the NFLPA brings in those situations, but when you consider what those players get disciplined for, there needs to be more when it comes to these types of plays… the optics are bad when you give a slap on the wrist on these types of hits, but a 4 game suspension for deflating footballs.” – Farhan Lalji, high school football coach
Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski was also suspended earlier in the week for delivering a late hit to the head on the Bills’ Tre’Davious White.
Fans were outraged at the consequences handed out.
Where is the Consistency on player safety & suspensions Wow Goodell EMBARRASSING!
JuJu 1 game where he blocked a pursuing Defender. WRONG! Taunting fine yes!
Iloka reduced! U lose all credibility.
Gronk 1 game? Same a JuJu? He committed a felony!
— John David (@JohnDav15971624) December 7, 2017
@jimrome The NFL has no interest in making the game safer. If they did then Stiff fines and big suspensions must be handed out when there is no doubt of intent to injure like Neandergronks Elbow off the top rope. They just want to protect their stars.
— Dave Schwab (@hockeydad1908) December 7, 2017
Though every hit is different, what many people are asking for is for there to be consistency in calls, something the NFL has not yet figured out.