It’ll be a busier week than usual for either Matt Birk or Ted Cottrell.
One of them will be handling the inevitable appeal of the one-game suspension imposed by the NFL on Buccaneers safety Dashon Goldson. The appeal will happen quickly, so that the Buccaneers will know whether Goldson will be available for Sunday’s game at New England.
Birk, who replaces Art Shell this year as one of the two hearing officers jointly appointed by the NFL and the NFLPA, will be getting a baptism by fire if he gets the honors. If it’s Birk, he’ll be bringing to the process the perspective of a player who has been on the field during the recent transformation of the game away from hits to the head.
While the hit by Goldson on Saints running back Darren Sproles triggers the discipline, Goldson’s history of related infractions will be taken into account. By rule, similar conduct from 2011 and 2012 falls within the analysis.
Regardless of the outcome to the appeal, the NFL’s decision to suspend Goldson comes less than a week after the NFL decided not to suspend Lions defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh for an illegal low block. Given that Suh has a history of extracurricular activities, the simplest explanation for the distinction could be that the NFL cares more about heads than knees.