Updated Oct 23, 2013 8: 15 PM ET
Washington Redskins safety Brandon Meriweather’s two-game suspension from the NATIONAL FOOTBALL LEAGUE for multiple helmet-to-helmet hits was cut in half Wednesday on charm.
Two days after Meriweather was told he would miss time for repeated violations of player safety rules, hearing officer Ted Cottrell reduced the punishment to one game. Cottrell was jointly appointed by the little league and the players’ union.
Meriweather’s suspension by NATIONAL FOOTBALL LEAGUE vice president of football functions Merton Hanks came for repeated hits to the head and neck area of defenseless players, including two in Washington’s 45-41 victory over the Chicago Has on Sunday.
Meriweather was flagged for a helmet-to-helmet hit when tackling receiver Alshon Jeffery on a 28-yard completion with about two minutes left within the third quarter. He also was penalized for a helmet-first hit on Brandon Marshall in the end zone on an incomplete pass with a little more than four minutes remaining in the game.
”All of these officials, in case they’re going to make a mistake, they want to protect the gamer, so if it’s anywhere close to being a helmet-to-helmet, they are throwing a 15-yard flag, and that’s what they’re being taught to do. If you get anywhere about that head, you’ve got a chance to harm your football team, ” Wa coach Mike Shanahan said Wednesday in Ashburn, Va. ”We’re constantly emphasizing it, but it’s difficult in the heat of battle for these guys. You’re very competitive. You want to get after them. Then all of a sudden, a guy might duck at the last second, and all of a sudden you have helmet-to-helmet, plus they don’t even look at intent. ”
In 7 days 2, Meriweather was fined $42, 000 for a helmet-first hit on Green Bay running back Eddie Lacy, forcing Lacy out of the online game with a concussion. Later that exact same day, another helmet-first hit provided Meriweather himself a concussion, knocking him out of the game.
Meriweather will lose about $70, 000 in salary when he sits out Sunday’s game in the Denver Broncos. He is not allowed in order to participate in any football activities with the team during the suspension.
”It’s unfortunate that the little league felt like it needed to suspend him, ” Redskins linebacker London Fletcher said. ”If a receiver sees you and he ducks, sometimes you are hit the guy, and the purpose was to not even hit the guy, so that’s the tough placement defenders are in…. A lot of times you can’t steer clear of the situation. ”
The suspension can leave the Redskins without their particular two starting safeties when they face Peyton Manning and the Broncos. Strong safety Reed Doughty got the concussion when the Bears attempted an onside kick in the fourth quarter.
Meriweather said right after last weekend’s game that he thought both hits against the Bears had been legal. He said he’s attempted to change his game to suit the NFL’s tackling rules.
”I wasn’t trying to be dirty. I wasn’t trying to harm nobody, ” he said. ”I didn’t lead with my — didn’t launch with my — head. I used my make like they told me to do. ”
Redskins cornerback Josh Wilson said Wednesday: ”You just got to adjust. I feel such as he is. He’s trying to be a better player. But sometimes it’s hard to lose that reputation in the end. ”