Ed Reed was in hot water after putting a punishing helmet-to-helmet hit on Emmanuel Sanders in last week’s Ravens-Steelers game. The water got so hot that the NFL reached a boiling point and decided to suspend Reed for one game, docking him of his $423,529 single-game check.
This was a ridiculous suspension to begin with, seeing as the grounds for it came not only on the Sanders hit, but on a hit he put on Deion Branch and one he laid on Drew Brees way back in 2010. The NFL can’t suspend someone on the basis of a “pattern of helmet-to-helmet hits”, cite a tackle that took place two seasons ago, and expect there not to be blowback to such an ambiguous, ill-advised suspension.
Well, Reed fought the man and won an appeal today, thanks to the forgiveness of arbitrator Ted Cottrell. Reed will still be fine $50,000, and that part is OK — his hit on Sanders was downright nasty. Here’s what Ed had to say:
“It’s a shame it even came to this point, being that I’ve been on the other side of hits that have been illegal towards me. I’ve got a lot of respect for that organization, the Steelers, and the other teams in the league. I never played the game that way. I know just as well as I can do the hitting somebody else can, too. I have football camps I’m not teaching that to my kids. it’s something we have to deal with as players. It’s a shame we have to do that.”
Reed has never been as notorious for questionable hits as have his counterparts, such as the Steelers’ James Harrison, so there’s a lot of credence to his statement. According the Baltimore Sun, he was actually most concerned about being labeled a “dirty player” over all else, and that’s pretty admirable. The evidence doesn’t lie, and neither do his past violations and fines, but hey, sometimes the game just happens that way and the moment takes over. Reed and his peers have expressed that it has never been his intention to purposely hurt opposing players, but to just play the game the way it was meant to be played.
And like the rest of us, Reed thought it was just silly that he was being punished now for, among other things, a hit that happened two seasons ago. Cottrell recognized all that, but he’s still all like “Whatever bro, it was an illegal hit.”
“I have determined that your actions were egregious and warrant significant discipline. However, I do not believe that your actions were so egregious as to subject you to a one-game suspension without pay. Player safety is the league’s primary concern in the formation of playing rules and all players are expected to adhere to those rules or face disciplinary action. I hope in the future you will focus on ensuring that your play conforms to the rules.”
So Reed will pay dues, but he will not miss the Ravens’ next game against the San Diego Chargers. Fair enough, NFL. Fair enough.
[Baltimore Sun, Getty Images]