Safety BRANDON MERIWEATHER of the Washington Redskins has been suspended without pay for the first two games of the regular season for his sixth violation of unnecessary roughness rules relating to hits to defenseless players and impermissible use of the helmet. In the second quarter of the Redskins’ August 23 game against the Baltimore Ravens, Meriweather made forcible contact to the head and neck area of a defenseless player (Torrey Smith) on a pass play.
The suspension was imposed by NFL Executive Vice President of Football Operations TROY VINCENT. Starting on Monday, September 1, Meriweather will not be permitted to attend team meetings and functions; attend or watch practices; appear at the club’s facilities for any reason; attend press conferences; appear at the team’s September 7 and September 14 games; or have contact with any club personnel, except to arrange off-site medical treatment or rehabilitation. Meriweather will be reinstated on Monday, September 15.
On the play in question, Meriweather delivered a forceful blow to the head and neck area of a defenseless receiver with no attempt to wrap up or make a conventional tackle of this player, Vincent said. Meriweather was previously disciplined five times for illegal hits to defenseless players, including a one-game suspension last season.
Rule 12, Section 2, Article 7 of the Official Playing Rules states that “[i]t is a foul if a player initiates unnecessary contact against a player who is in a defenseless posture.” Article 7(a)(2) further explains that a player in a defenseless posture includes “[a] receiver attempting to catch a pass; or who has completed a catch and has not had time to protect himself or has not clearly become a runner.”
Meriweather’s actions violated Rule 12, Section 2, Article 7(b)(1), which prohibits the following contact against a player who is in a defenseless posture: “Forcibly hitting the defenseless player’s head or neck area with the helmet, facemask, forearm, shoulder, even if the initial contact of the defender’s helmet or facemask is lower than the player’s neck, and regardless of whether the defensive player also uses his arms to tackle the defenseless player by encircling or grasping him.”
Note 2 in Rule 12, Section 2, Article 7 imposes a strict liability on the defender in the exact situation that existed in this instance: “A player who initiates contact against a defenseless opponent is responsible for avoiding an illegal act. This includes illegal contact that may occur during the process of attempting to dislodge the ball from an opponent. A standard of strict liability applies for any contact against a defenseless opponent, even if the opponent is an airborne player who is returning to the ground or whose body position is otherwise in motion, and irrespective of any acts by the defenseless opponent, such as ducking his head or curling up his body in anticipation of contact.”
Under the Collective Bargaining Agreement, the suspension may be appealed within three business days. Appeals are heard and decided by either DERRICK BROOKS or TED COTTRELL, the officers jointly appointed and compensated by the NFL and NFLPA to decide appeals of on-field player discipline.
For a detailed description of the on-field player discipline process, please visit NFLmedia.com or NFLcommunications.com.
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