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League realizes Walden should have been ejected

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Thursday night’s come-from-behind win by the Colts featured an ugly first-half incident that perhaps hasn’t received the attention it deserves.  It definitely didn’t receive the right amount of attention from the men who were officiating the game.

With less than five minutes remaining in the first half, Indianapolis linebacker Erik Walden grabbed the facemask of Titans tight end Delanie Walker and ripped off Walker’s helmet, away from the path of a Chris Johnson run. When Walker confronted Walden to object, Walden applied a head butt with his helmet — to Walker’s unhelmeted head.

The removal of the helmet happened as the play was ending.  The head butt occurred after the whistle.

Walden was not ejected.  Per a league source, the NFL realizes that Walden “clearly” should have been disqualified.

The question now becomes whether Walden will be suspended.  That decision will be made as soon as Monday by Merton Hanks, who metes out the discipline on matters of this nature.  Then, any suspension will be subject to appeal to either Matt Birk or Ted Cottrell, who are independently appointed and paid by the NFL and the NFLPA for matters of this nature.

It’s unclear what Hanks will do, but consider this precedent.

1.  Earlier this year, Hanks suspended Texans defensive lineman Antonio Smith for two preseason games and Week One of the regular season after removing the helmet of Dolphins guard Richie Incognito and swinging it at his face.  (Smith apparently did not make contact.)  The conduct occurred after the play ended.

2.  In 2011, Hanks suspended Lions defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh for two games after he stomped on the arm of Packers offensive lineman Evan Dietrich-Smith.  The conduct occurred after the play ended.

3.  There’s also a comparable act that occurred on the field where Walden applied the helmetless head butt to Walker.  In 2006, former Titans defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth removed the helmet of Cowboys center Andre Gurode and stomped on his head with a cleat.  Haynesworth received a five-game suspension.  Again, the conduct occurred after the play ended.

A suspension is possible for Walden.  Given that the conduct occurred after the play and that it involved contact with a player’s head (at a time when the NFL is obsessed with protecting the thing inside it), Walden could be suspended for multiple games.

We’ll all find out more about it on Monday or Tuesday.

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12 Responses to “League realizes Walden should have been ejected”
  1. kmack1023 says: Nov 17, 2013 8:46 AM

    at least three, no more than five… his actions are more egregious than Smith and Suh, but far less than cleating someone on the head…

  2. krenshaws says: Nov 17, 2013 8:54 AM

    Don’t kid yourself the NFL won’t suspend a Colt’s player.

  3. bleachertees says: Nov 17, 2013 8:54 AM

    Nobody has brought up the punch that Delanie Walker retaliated with. While a natural reaction, it still would typically be enforced as a foul as well.

  4. jarobinewsome says: Nov 17, 2013 9:08 AM

    2 game minimum. count on it.

  5. skoobyfl says: Nov 17, 2013 9:10 AM

    Come Tuesday his teammates will be asking where’s Walden?

  6. slowboater1 says: Nov 17, 2013 9:16 AM

    Play happened right in front of refs. Need any more reason to think officials don’t twist games?

  7. martin492013 says: Nov 17, 2013 9:17 AM

    Hey NFL how about using replay for some of this garbage? Walden’s Pond should have not played another down that game. This league spends to much time making stupid calls during games and often misses the worst fouls. Brutal play all around and it surely should result in a long suspension.

  8. titansbro says: Nov 17, 2013 9:35 AM

    It’s funny too because the official obviously saw it because he threw a flag on it. Why didn’t he eject him for it? I mean, the ref should face some punishment as well.

  9. anonymous135 says: Nov 17, 2013 9:47 AM

    I think for things that occur like this, replay should be allowed.

    Yes it slows games, but there’s no way a player should be allowed to continue to play under those circumstances.

  10. strongmackn says: Nov 17, 2013 10:21 AM

    Slight contact with a qb’s helmet? Roughing the passer.

    Helmet to head headbutt? Meh… carry on.

  11. jr4real says: Nov 17, 2013 10:25 AM

    Antonio Smith should have received a bonus for taking a swing at Richie.

  12. denverdave3 says: Nov 17, 2013 11:38 AM

    I say let them all play without helmets, just like we did as kids. Some of these guys could stand to get a little sense knocked into them.

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