Yes, Bengals cornerback Pacman Jones should have been suspended for removing the helmet of Raiders receiver Amari Cooper and slamming his head against it. Yes, the NFL may have opted not to pick another fight it may have lost before a truly neutral arbitrator.
Yes, Pacman was provoked by Cooper.
It doesn’t justify Pacman’s reaction, but it at least shows why he did it. A source with knowledge of Pacman’s reasoning tells PFT that Jones was upset by Cooper throwing a fist into Pacman’s throat as Pacman was pursuing the ball and Cooper was trying to keep Pacman from closing in.
Per the source, Jones also claims he didn’t realize he was slamming Cooper’s head into his own helmet, and that Pacman was simply pushing Cooper’s head.
But that’s how it goes in football. The guy who initiated it gets away with it, and the guy who retaliates gets caught. For Jones, the officials saw what he did but they didn’t eject him. They should have.
On Wednesday’s PFT Live on NBC Sports Radio, former NFL official and supervisor of officials Jim Daopoulos said that officials are reluctant to eject players because of the competitive advantages an ejection can create.
Which means that the NFL needs to do a better job of explaining its expectations to game officials.
Pacman also should have done a better job of explaining why he did what he did to Cooper. At the hearing on the appeal of his $35,000 fine, he’ll need to.