The NFL announced Tuesday that Texans defensive lineman Antonio Smith is suspended for the remainder of the preseason and the first regular season game for the incident during Saturday’s preseason game.
On a pass rush, Smith ripped off Dolphins’ offensive guard Richie Incognito’s helmet and then hit him in the face with it.
ESPN originally reported that Smith would only be suspended the last two preseasons games. The NFL may have changed their minds because of the backlash the league received from the media Tuesday morning.
To suspend Smith for only preseason games is an absolute joke. In fact, it helps the Texans because at 31 years old, the defensive lineman does not need much more reps in preseason games. He gets to sit and rest.
At least the NFL somewhat straightened out the suspension length, but this incident should bring attention to how suspensions are handed out around the NFL.
Fans have seen it in baseball over the last month; league offices more often than not assign random punishments based on a case-by-case basis that often contradict one another.
It appears for the most part, helmet-to-helmet hits are on the decline in the NFL, but at least those illegal hits have to do with playing the game. Sure, some players launching their helmet into an opponent’s head, in some cases, have the intent of harming the opponent.
Lots of helmet-to-helmet hits, however, happen because defensive players are playing hard and doing their best to knock down the other team. That does not mean they should be legal, it is just a penalty teams can live with.
What Smith did to Incognito no team can live with. It had nothing to do with the game. He was not a man playing hard, he was a frustrated, immature 31-year-old who had the intent of inflicting a major injury to his opponent. Not only did he rip his helmet off, he then used it as a weapon.
The NFL was wise to make Smith’s punishment harsher, but it could have been much worse.