Suspension watch commences for JuJu Smith-Schuster

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As the Steelers process their latest play-down-to-the-level-of-inferior-competition-but-still-win evening in Cincinnati, they now have to hold their breath regarding the possibility that one of their best young players won’t be available on Sunday night against Baltimore.

Receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster‘s devastating blindside helmet-to-jaw hit on Bengals linebacker Vontaze Burfict puts Smith-Schuster in line to potentially be the next NFL player suspended in a season that has featured more than a few of them. From Bears linebacker Danny Trevathan to Raiders running back Marshawn Lynch to Buccaneers receiver Mike Evans to Raiders receiver Michael Crabtree and Broncos cornerback Aqib Talib to Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski to probably another one or two that I’m forgetting because there have been so many of them this year, Smith-Schuster could be the next name added to the list.

Unlike the Gronkowski hit on Tre'Davious White, Smith-Schuster’s actions occurred within the normal confines of a play. But so did Trevathan’s, and that didn’t keep him from being suspended.

The biggest difference between Trevathan and Smith-Schuster is that Davante Adams ended up in the hospital, and Vontaze Burfict didn’t. But the ultimate outcome of the illegal hit shouldn’t dictate the punishment; if the goal is to ensure that players avoid engaging in dangerous activities on the field, the dangerous activities, not the outcome, should drive the consequence.

It’s a shared responsibility of players and coaches. And it will be interesting to hear whether the Pittsburgh coaches ultimately praise or condemn Smith-Schuster for the hit. For now, coach Mike Tomlin has publicly chastised Smith-Schuster only for standing over Burfict after the hit, and not for the hit itself.

Six years ago, former Steelers safety Ryan Clark claimed that a hit that triggered a $40,000 fine drew praise from Tomlin in the film room. Hopefully, those mixed messages no longer are being sent by Tomlin.

Hopefully, mixed messages will no longer be sent by the league office, either.

68 responses to “Suspension watch commences for JuJu Smith-Schuster

  1. Don’t even talk suspension unless a suspension for George Ilokais in the conversation too. His hit was more egregious. I fully expect a fine for both, it no suspension

  2. If you think Tomlin is sending “mixed messages”, you didn’t watch the game. Schuster did *exactly* the same thing a few plays later, but the helmet to helmet was somewhat glancing as opposed to directly under the chin. The announcers even mentioned it, “he just did it again!”.

    Shazier was injured because he led with his helmet. Mixon was knocked out because Williams led with his helmet (on what I would consider a normal hit). Schuster led with his helmet on a crack-back, blind-side blocks. Twice. Golden speared Green in the back after he dropped a pass, just not hard enough to do any damage. We watched TJ Watt almost kill the Packers QB with a “helmet missile”. I’m not sure what the mystery is, this is how the Steelers play. It’s up to the league to decide whether it’s something they’re going to address, or they going to keep framing as “old school football” (and thus somehow acceptable).

  3. You pointed this out, but seems pretty irresponsible to compare JuJu’s hit to situations with Gronk, Evans, Crabtree, Talib, etc.

  4. If Gronkowski only got one game for committing aggravated assault on a football field, Smith-Schuster should only get a fine. Gronk’s hit was a malicious retaliatory attack, not something that happened during an actual football play. Additionally, please quit crying about that hit. Burfict has had that coming for years. Maybe he’ll think about how he hits people, now that he got lit up like that.

  5. Remember when Burfict, Pac-Man, et al doubted AB? They said he was faking his concussion after the Burfict hit? Yeah, well, we are all waiting to see if Burfict is actually injured too. Except AB missed a game. I highly doubt Burfict does.

    A penalty yes. The taunting was unnecessary too. But this wasn’t a blatant head hunting cheap shot like Burfict laid out on AB.

  6. .
    If the Ravens play like they did vs the Steelers earlier in the season, then he won’t be missed. To play your top rival before your home crowd and not compete is just sad.
    .

  7. A few years ago, that’s replayed 100 times with the analysts celebrating it. Suspension? Get outta here.

  8. The biggest difference between Trevathan and Smith-Schuster is that Davante Adams ended up in the hospital, and Vontaze Burfict didn’t.

    Burfict is in the hospital right now with a spinal cord injury Florio.

  9. “Six years ago, former Steelers safety Ryan Clark claimed that a hit that triggered a $40,000 fine drew praise from Tomlin in the film room.”
    No surprise there. But the issue goes beyond Tomlin.
    In 2008, Steelers WR Hines Ward broke Keith Rivers jaw with a crack-back block.
    In 2013, Steelers linebacker Terence Garvin broke Kevin Huber’s jaw going helmet-to-helmet on the punter.
    Last night, JuJu lead with his helmet on a crack-back block.
    The lazy narrative is that the Rooneys are a proud football family. No. They have just owned a team for a really long time.

  10. Here’s the thing I don’t understand; everyone always complains that the rules are becoming to restrictive on hitting, you always complain about the game becoming too “soft”. Same exact people complain about the hits in this game, specifically by Burfict and Iloka… So which way do you want it? Old school style or 2000s style? Because you can’t have it both ways. Me? I love seeing hits like that. That’s football to me. Idk what Aikman and Gruden are complaining about. Tell me you’d rather watch a Jaguars/Colts or Texans/Broncos game than a Bengals/Steelers game where you KNOW people are going to be smashed and bashed all over the field. What’s more exciting? “Oh it’s hard to watch”…. really? Seriously? This is the type of game you want replaced?

  11. If a player on Your team is on the receiving end of vicious hit, then it’s the worst cheap shot ever! If a player on your team delivers the blow, then it’s a good football play! In the Burfict’s case, it’s more of “reap what you sow”!

  12. …Six years ago, former Steelers safety Ryan Clark claimed that a hit that triggered a $40,000 fine drew praise from Tomlin in the film room….
    ——————————————

    Not a surprise coming from a coach who has been fined for trying to injure opposing players during games.

  13. Schuster should be fined for the hit, and suspended for the taunting. Unlike continued transgressors like Burfict, this is Schuster’s first incident of foul play. Since caveman Gronkowski got 1 gm for driving a guy’s head into the turf, I would imagine JuJu would see the same punishment.

  14. I’m sorry, but the hit was to the chest and then rode up to his head. That is a good hit and not a penalty. Do you think if Burfict was looking in the direction he was running this would be a foul? NO. Taunting call was justified.

  15. It is clear that this type of undisciplined play should not be tolerated, let alone encouraged by the HC. The actions of both Tomlin and Lewis have taken in the past do far from decrying these types of activities and will seemingly only continue to spur a blood feud between the two teams. Say what you will about Belichick, but it was refreshing to see a coach openly denounce clearly wrong actions taken by his team directly to another HC.

    I love JuJu and do not think he is deserving of a multiple game suspension based on precedence, but it would be nice if the league could make an example out of one of these many hostile situations to try to put a damper on things…

  16. Jarvis Landry did the same thing (probably more viscous bc left his feet) to Aaron Williams last year and ended Williams’ career.
    Landry was suspended 0 games.

  17. I think another major factor here is that he stood over Burfict after the hit and taunted him. It’s one thing to go overboard, another thing entirely to gloat about it and stand over an injured player.

    Has to be the (now standard) 1 game suspension.

  18. The childish, rookie taunting merited a 15 yard penalty, but that hit wasn’t even in the same universe as Gronk’s shenanigans. For JJSS:

    1. The block was critical to the play unfolding
    2. JJSS lowered his shoulder
    3. If he was outside of VB’s field of vision, it was just barely.

    If JJSS gets a one-game suspension, Gronk should have received four games, but, whatever. Anything goes in Goodellandia.

  19. I am confused as to why JuJu’s hit is the only one being discussed. A few plays later AB was crushed via a helmet to helmet Iloka. Why is that not being discussed as suspension worthy?
    Yes, JuJu made contact with the helmet and was penalized for it. And yes, taunting was a bad look. But Iloka hit was just as bad. It is even being discussed this morning. Doesn’t make a lot of sense

  20. elphantasmo says:

    We watched TJ Watt almost kill the Packers QB with a “helmet missile”.
    ^^^^^^^^^^^^

    I saw the play in question. The QB was a RB at that time and it wasn’t near as bad as what you claim. Hundley turned his head at the last second – which caused the helmet to helmet contact.

    For a guy that nearly died, Hundley got right up and never left the game.

  21. Some of you have no clue what you’re talking about. Look at the play again. It’s clearly a shoulder to chest hit, PERFECTLY LEGAL!! He deserved the penalty and a fine for taunting, that was stupid and uncalled for. The only reason people are making a big deal about it is because Burfict acted like he was hurt, for the FOURTH TIME IN THE GAME!

  22. Just a nasty, dirty helmet to helmet, targeted hit.

    The way he calculatingly did that, is as bad as anything Burfict has done.

    Two wrongs don’t make a right.

  23. substanceoverceremony says:
    December 5, 2017 at 9:02 am
    I think another major factor here is that he stood over Burfict after the hit and taunted him. It’s one thing to go overboard, another thing entirely to gloat about it and stand over an injured player.

    Has to be the (now standard) 1 game suspension.

    11 3 Rate This

    ———————–

    2 games like Trevathan. One for the calculating hit, the other for the taunt.

  24. elphantasmo says:
    December 5, 2017 at 8:01 am
    If you think Tomlin is sending “mixed messages”, you didn’t watch the game. Schuster did *exactly* the same thing a few plays later, but the helmet to helmet was somewhat glancing as opposed to directly under the chin. The announcers even mentioned it, “he just did it again!”.

    Shazier was injured because he led with his helmet. Mixon was knocked out because Williams led with his helmet (on what I would consider a normal hit). Schuster led with his helmet on a crack-back, blind-side blocks. Twice. Golden speared Green in the back after he dropped a pass, just not hard enough to do any damage. We watched TJ Watt almost kill the Packers QB with a “helmet missile”. I’m not sure what the mystery is, this is how the Steelers play. It’s up to the league to decide whether it’s something they’re going to address, or they going to keep framing as “old school football” (and thus somehow acceptable).

    ————-

    Cumulative penalties need to be levied on the steelers for preaching this stuff.

  25. I have no clue why this is even being discussed. First time offender. The hit is barely illegal. He is running perpendicular to the field. A degree or two farther and it’s completely legal. He hit him high in the chest with a shoulder and rode up. It wasn’t helmet to helmet that caused the injury it was whiplash. In what universe is that suspension worthy? I get the taunting looks bad, but how does that matter? Who is the last person to get suspended for taunting?

  26. Hate both teams. So no dog in this fight. Really not seeing a problem with this hit other than it’s a peelback block, which has been outlawed. He hit him square in the chest. The taunting penalty was well deserved & he should get fined for that. But suspension?!? Haha come on. Gronk drove an unsuspecting players head into the turf with the full weight of his body well after the play had ended with clear intent to injure & he gets 1 game? JJSS should only get a fine, if that. Gronk’s play was WAY worse.

    And PLEASE do not expect me to shed any tears for Vontaze Burfict. Dude’s been asking for someone to end his career for… well… his whole career.

  27. He embarrassed himself for the taunt, please let talk Burfict and his faking. As he had time to reach for JuJU after the taunt and when outside the dressing room was telling medics to undo him from gurney. Burfict is far from a model citizen and we all know it,. Anyone that has watched these two teams know how they put extra evert in every play. Was not a smart move on JU JU part but if a guy in NE can say emotion got him playing the Bill’s than the Steelers have the same right to apologize in the same manner. Actually was a fun game to watch, the announcers and officials were much of the problem as well.

  28. 2 games like Trevathan. One for the calculating hit, the other for the taunt.

    So in your twisted world of fairness Gronk gets one game for an after whistle cheapshots but advocate for a two game suspension for JuJu’s in play hit. Homerism at its worst…..that’s insulting to people that can think logically. He needs to be find ….period.

  29. I’m a Bengals fan, but I don’t think Smith-Schuster’s hit should warrant a suspension. It wasn’t malicious or late. He’ll get a similar fine to what Iloka should get. Helmet-to-helmet plays during live action are going to happen. For first time offenders, it’s unfair and unrealistic to expect a suspension.

    Steelers’ fans crack me up. 10 years ago, they defended Ward and Harrison. Then Burfict drills AB with a classic, oldschool hit (and Bell gets hurt on a relatively normal tackle), and Burfict is public enemy number one, with fans in Pittsburgh (and players) crying (and tweeting) his every transgression. The “reap-what-you-sow”, “karma is karma”, “Free drinks for JuJu in the ‘Burgh for life” is chokingly ironic when their own brain-scrambling LB is still in the hospital.

  30. Hopefully, mixed messages will no longer be sent….

    _______________________________________________________________________________________

    You think AB was the only player thanking JuJu after the game? What a joke it all has become.

  31. Why fine a player for doing what he’s coached to do?

    So Belichick is teaching cheapshots after the whistle…..? Think lying Teddy before posting you won’t look so obtuse in the words of Major Winchester.

  32. The most ironic thing is recognizing the same names on these comments as were on so many comments yesterday, and noting how much their stance on the subject has changed overnight. Until you can sing the same song no matter what foor wears the shoe you are just hypocritical noise.

  33. It wasn’t even an illegal hit. He was not heading towards his own end zone. He was completely lateral. He then hit him square in the chest. It only made contact to the chin because his hit rode up.

    The only thing wrong with the play is that Burfict wasn’t looking. That isn’t JJSS’s fault. The taunting was unsportsmanlike, but not suspension worthy. Burfict even grabbed his leg for some reason.

    So many people want this game softened down, and I see absolutely nothing wrong with that block. Is he supposed to just let Burfict tackle the guy with the ball because he isn’t looking? That’s why plays like the Bell on the sideline happen. Players are afraid to hit or tackle. Theyre all afraid of fines and suspensions, and its killing the game.

  34. Belichick apoligized for Gronk. Tomlin cheerleads helmet to helmet hits and spearing

    Oh lying Teddy they are not the same infraction so save the Belichick faux apology. Gronk’s was premeditated….period and Smith’s wasn’t. And as usual you must have copious sources that have actually heard Tomlin supporting helmet to helmet and spearing. Far too many, Pats fans pushing alternate facts. Shameless fan base.

  35. The most ironic thing is recognizing the same names on these comments as were on so many comments yesterday, and noting how much their stance on the subject has changed overnight. Until you can sing the same song no matter what foor wears the shoe you are just hypocritical noise.

    0 0

    The incidents are not comparable as one was premeditated and one wasn’t thus the different opinion is justified. However cheapshots by any player need to be stopped…period!

  36. Six years ago, former Steelers safety Ryan Clark claimed that a hit that triggered a $40,000 fine drew praise from Tomlin in the film room.

  37. I thought the hit deserved the penalty he got. It was clearly a helmet to helmet head shot. However the hit itself is not deserving of a one game suspension. It wasn’t late, and happened withing the flow of the game. However, I’m guessing he gets a game, for two reasons. First the taunting. It was really a bad look, especially after what happened to Shazier. Second, given what’s been happening throughout the league, the buffoons at the NYNFL might feel the necessity to give him a game, after which on an appeal reduce it to a fine.

  38. I must have been watching a different game because the hit I saw was playside (not away from the action), head on, and it was a shoulder into the chest. All completely legal. His head snapped back because of the collision. That was an incredibly violent hit, but nothing in the rule book would stop it.

  39. Instead of a suspension… can we throw him a parade? Maybe it will take something like this to make Burfict feel differently about his career resume of cheapshots.

  40. Six years ago, former Steelers safety Ryan Clark claimed that a hit that triggered a $40,000 fine drew praise from Tomlin in the film room.

    As usual you have absolutely no proof. We’re you in the film room or did Belichek have it mic’d up . Come on Teddy alternate facts are for lying presidents this about sports.

  41. Shoulder squarely to the chest area on a block
    to a middle LB lateral to the play. Only reason
    it looked bad was Burfict was too focused looking
    into the back field to have any awareness what was
    unfolding around him.

    JuJu should get fined for the taunting and nothing else.

  42. negadelphianinjersey says:

    December 5, 2017 at 8:33 am

    Here’s the thing I don’t understand; everyone always complains that the rules are becoming to restrictive on hitting, you always complain about the game becoming too “soft”. Same exact people complain about the hits in this game, specifically by Burfict and Iloka… So which way do you want it? Old school style or 2000s style? Because you can’t have it both ways. Me? I love seeing hits like that. That’s football to me. Idk what Aikman and Gruden are complaining about. Tell me you’d rather watch a Jaguars/Colts or Texans/Broncos game than a Bengals/Steelers game where you KNOW people are going to be smashed and bashed all over the field. What’s more exciting? “Oh it’s hard to watch”…. really? Seriously? This is the type of game you want replaced?
    _______________________________________________________________________________________________________________

    None of Burfict’s hits last night were dirty or questionable so I’m not sure what hit you are referring too. He didn’t get penalized for anything either. Iloka’s hit will cost him money and possibly a suspension.

  43. nathanp2013 says:

    December 5, 2017 at 11:57 am

    Instead of a suspension… can we throw him a parade? Maybe it will take something like this to make Burfict feel differently about his career resume of cheapshots.
    ______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

    We can throw that parade after we throw one for Ryan Shazier in hopes he will feel differently about his awful tackling form of leading with his helmet. Gave Gio Bernard a concussion in the playoff game and now he nearly paralyzed himself with it. What the hell are they teaching them?? Shazier should leave the head stuff to Mike Mitchell.

  44. If the NFL would put the players back in leather helmets most of these injuries wouldn’t be happening. That thing they wear on their head makes them little more than high speed battering rams. Not only that but the extra mass on the end of that delicate, swiveling appendage called a ‘neck’creates a lot more chance of a spinal cord injury.

  45. I agree with using leather helmets or something similar. Helmets are designed to prevent skull fractures, not concussions. Most of us are aware of what a good form tackle looks like but we rarely see one on the field because defenders won’t wrap up because it is easier to try to knock the runner down like a bowling pi. Some even launch their backs/shoulders at the runner. The main reason they do this is because the helmets give them a sense of being armored so they won’t worry about head injuries. If the NFL takes the weapons away, we would see a purer and safer version of the games. There would still be big hits (proper form) but it would virtually eliminate intentional use of the head as a weapon.

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