NFL DRAGGING ITS FEET ON FINING CLOWNEY FOR WENTZ CHEAP SHOT!
By David Malligan
The suits on Park Avenue in Manhattan are reviewing the hit by Seattle Seahawks defensive end Jadeveon Clowney that knocked Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz out of Sunday’s NFC first-round playoff game.
What’s taking them so long?
The NFL’s review began yesterday and will continue today with further consideration of whether Clowney violated the rule put into effect last season that prohibits a player from lowering his head and using his helmet to deliver a forcible hit to an opponent, according to a person familiar with the situation.
Clowney was not penalized for the hit during the game but could be fined by the league if it determines there was a violation.
The Washington Post is reporting that the initial feeling yesterday was that a fine probably is not warranted, according to the person familiar with the case.
That was based on the determination by the on-field officials that Wentz was, by rule, a runner at the time of the hit and the contact to his helmet by Clowney was incidental. That would make the hit legal and not subject to a fine. But the NFL could impose a fine, even without Clowney being penalized during the game, if it determines that Clowney violated the lowering-the-head rule.
Wentz was placed in the NFL’s concussion protocol soon after absorbing the first-quarter hit. He did not return, and the Eagles did not score a touchdown while losing, 17-9, with Josh McCown at quarterback. Clowney appeared to hit Wentz, helmet to helmet, just before Wentz landed on the ground at the end of a play, and Wentz’s head then struck the turf.
Referee Shawn Smith told a pool reporter after the game Sunday: “He was a runner, and he did not give himself up. We saw incidental helmet contact, and in our judgment, we didn’t rule that to be a foul.”
Some Eagles players expressed displeasure about the hit, but Coach Doug Pederson said: “I didn’t see it. I didn’t say anything. … There’s nothing I can do about it. It’s out of my hands. It’s got to be called on the field. They didn’t call it.”
Clowney said he was not trying to injure Wentz, and Seahawks Coach Pete Carroll said after the game he was not surprised that a penalty was not called.
Under NFL rules, a helmet-to-helmet hit against a ball carrier is legal, but such a hit is illegal when it is delivered to a player defined as being in a defenseless position. The lowering-the-head rule is separate, dealing only with the posture of the player delivering the hit.