Typically, Steelers players complain publicly about discipline imposed on themselves or other Steelers players for illegal hits. Now, one of the Steelers’ starting safeties is speaking out regarding the one-game suspension imposed on Ravens safety Ed Reed for delivering an illegal hit to Steelers receiver Emmanuel Sanders.
Via Jamison Hensley of ESPN.com, Clark posted on Twitter a reaction to the news that Reed will be suspended for Sunday’s game against the Chargers — subject to his appeal.
“Tough on Ed getting suspended,” Clark said. “I can’t say that I agree [with] that. It was a penalty but I can’t say he was intentionally trying to harm [Sanders].”
But intent doesn’t matter in these situations. It never does. And Clark and every defensive players should already know that.
The decision to suspend Reed indicates that the league will take significant action against players who have three penalties in a three-season period for illegal hits on defenseless players. Though NFL spokesman Greg Aiello told PFT on Monday that each situation will be assessed on a case-by-case basis, the fact that Reed received a one-game suspension for his third violation of the rules regarding hits against defenseless players suggests that any other player will be subject to a similar sanction — regardless of whether there was intent to injure or intent to apply an illegal hit.
That’s the clear message to Clark and any other player. When it comes to hitting a defenseless player with the helmet or in the helmet/neck area, the third strike very likely will entail spending a Sunday at home, without pay.