The NFL has imposed a two-game suspension on Bears linebacker Danny Trevathan for his illegal hit on Packers receiver Davante Adams. For hearing officer Derrick Brooks, the core question presents a new frontier for the league.
Trevathan becomes the first player the league will try to suspend despite not having prior punishment for illegal hits on his active record. Though he was fined, per the league, for an illegal hit several years ago, he has no infractions in the relevant 32-game window that determines whether heightened sanctions apply.
The league previously utilized progressive discipline in cases of this nature, starting with fines and eventually expanding to a suspension if the behavior continues. From Trevathan’s perspective, his best argument will be that the NFL’s dramatic break from past precedent should not be affirmed.
From the NFL’s perspective, the suspension reflects an effort by the Competition Committee to encourage more aggressive discipline for certain types of hits. Although the NFL Players Association has a voice in the committee’s offseason examination of the rulebook, the NFLPA may argue on Trevathan’s behalf that a formal agreement to change the disciplinary process is needed in order to allow a suspension for, essentially, a first offense.
Brooks and James Thrash have been jointly appointed and are jointly paid by the NFL and the NFLPA. The hearing officer has final say over whether the punishment will be upheld, reduced, or scrapped entirely.
The Bears face the Vikings and Ravens over the next two weeks. The hearing is set for Tuesday.