Ryan Shazier says he wasn’t fined for hit on Giovani Bernard

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Steelers linebacker Ryan Shazier delivered a brutal helmet-to-helmet hit that gave Bengals running back Giovani Bernard a concussion on Saturday night. But while it was brutal, it was also legal.

Shazier told reporters he hasn’t received a fine notice from the NFL.

Not yet,” Shazier said. “I hope not. I felt like it was a clean hit. I’m not out here trying to hurt anyone. I’m just out here trying to play football.”

The NFL informs players by Wednesday if they’re fined, so if Shazier hasn’t heard yet, that means he’s not getting fined. And that’s because the hit was not a foul. Hits with the crown of the helmet are only illegal under certain defined circumstances, and Shazier’s hit didn’t qualify as illegal. Brutal, yes. Illegal, no.

In fact, it’s really the Steelers who have a right to complain about the call on that play: Bernard fumbled and Shazier picked up the ball and had a clear path to the end zone for a touchdown, but the officials wrongly blew the play dead.

Shazier, for his part, isn’t complaining. He says he’s glad he wasn’t fined and glad it sounds like Bernard will be OK.

86 responses to “Ryan Shazier says he wasn’t fined for hit on Giovani Bernard

  1. Hate the Steelers, but anyone who knows football knew that was a devistating CLEAN hit. The running forearm finishing move by burfict on the other hand was legal… back when Mike Dikta played that is.

  2. Kind of the state of pro football right now. A hit that has been deemed legal is being vilified because the hit was too hard. Football is violent and always will be. Part of the reason why people like it.

  3. This is exactly what is wrong with today’s NFL and frustrates the fans. I’ve watched the game for 40 years and can honestly say I don’t understand how penalties are called anymore. A friend asked the other day, when is a penalty called for helmet to helmet contact? My response, depends on the ref, the teams involved, the temperature and which way the wind is blowing.

  4. Ridicules for any hit by the crown of the helmet not to be illegal. Follow the college rule and kick players out of the game if they use their helmet to target. For the long term good of the sport and player safety, that type of a hit has to be weeded out of the game.

  5. The blown whistle was the worst call of the game. Had shazier rightfully scored, the game would have been over. 22-0. Not only that, but then the whole series where Ben got hurt never would have happened. Likewise, there would have been no end game throw over the middle which resulted in brown getting hurt. Butterfly effect

  6. 100% ILLEGAL hit that was 10x worse then leading with the shoulder as Burfict did.

    Shazier aimed his helmet straight at Bernard – straight at Bernards head.

    It is right there on film anybody can see.

    This is Goodel’s integrity at work

  7. Finally an end to all the speculation, the NFL has spoken! 1. Shazier’s hit was not illegal and 2. Burfict’s hit was an illegal head shot (PS and it doesn’t matter whether Antonio Brown was hurt or not, so all this noise about whether he’s faking it is just that — noise).

    The NHL does a lot of things wrong, but one thing they do right is showing a video and explaining why a hit is illegal. If the NFL showed a video with their rulings it would be so much easier for fans to understand.

  8. If RBs can’t use their helmets as a weapon then Defenders shouldn’t be able to. The NFL can’t have it both ways; either they want to protect the head or they don’t.

    Furthermore, if Shawn Williams’ hit on Wheaton was a foul, then Shazier’s should have been too.

    The last thing that needs to be said about that game is that both teams were dirty and both fanbases should be embarrassed.

  9. Just another nail in the coffin of those who would argue that Cincy was ‘cheated’ or that the refs were biased in that game. Pitt played a clean, hard-fought contest and Cincy went for the lowest backyard crap they could think of.

    Glad the better, classier, more dignified team won – despite the refs trying to throw the game Cincy’s way.

  10. It was a hard legal hit. Unlike Burfict intentionally trying to take AB’s head off after the ball was clearly way over his head way before Burfict got there. Put your homerism and jealousy aside and be honest.

  11. I still can’t believe Williams’ hit on Wheaton drew a flag while this one didn’t. Wheaton took three full steps and ran into Williams’ shoulder, yet they called him defenseless. Bernard caught the ball, turned around and got knocked out and wasn’t called defenseless.

    Way to call it the same for both teams, ref.

  12. It was a new rule in still aged in 2013 nicknamed the Trent Richardson rule.

    The first rule change prohibits a runner or tackler from initiating forcible contact with the crown of the helmet outside the tackle box,”

    Shazier should have been flagged, but Bengals shouldn’t have let steelers get inside there head.

  13. This play ironically turned game in favor of Bengals. The JUDGEMENT non-call in question resulted in what should have been Pitt td, but the another Inadvertent whistle on what was later determined a legal fumble and clean recovery still brought the whole play back–and included a 15 yard penalty that should have been assessed on a kick off (that never happened). The ensuing series the Pitt QB was injured–and instead of 22-0 for Pitt a blink of the eye resulted in 15-16 with only a bizarre end of game sequence allowing for the Bengals to lose.

    Btw, though Pitt won the inadvertent whistle may have ended their season regardless. A strong argument can be made that had that whistle not blown neither the qb or the star wide out would have been injured and Pitt would go into Denver with a significantly better chance to advance on to the AFC Championship game.

  14. Yet Williams of Cincinnati was called for a personal foul on a play that was cleaner and less devastating than this.

    Receiver had three steps, Williams lead with his shoulder and still got the 15 yard penalty.

    Shazier hits Bernard, two steps, crown of the helmet. Nothing.

    I’m glad Burfict has taken out Bell. Left Antonio Brown concuss and Roethlisberger straining.

    Good luck in Denver.

  15. Seriously, the way the rule book is these days it’s almost like they sat down and said let’s write stuff that makes as little sense as possible and is as inconsistent as we can possible make it.

    When you think of all the things that do draw a flag in football, it makes no sense that it would not be a penalty for a guy to catch the ball with his back to the defense and get clocked straight in the face with the crown of a defender’s helmet as soon as he turns around. How on earth did they decide that was going to be the exception to the safety rules?

  16. Absolutely legal to use the helmet as a weapon, because player safety is number 1. smh

  17. If that is a legal hit then stop telling me the NFL cares about safety because that was launching the crown of his helmet square into Bernards helmet and can cause just as much harm to Bernard as the hit on Brown.
    Where you are on the field doesn`t change the “safety” of a hit.

  18. Never heard Burfict or any other Bengal say they hope AB or Ben will be ok. Just that they are faking concussions etc… Speaks for itself

  19. Shazier also has no history of being dirty or hitting with intent to injure. Guessing we’ll still never hear an end to the complaining about the infamous “dirty hit on Bernard,” though — Carson Palmer Pt. 2.

  20. I don’t see how Shazier wasn’t violating the rule instituted in 2013 about “spearing/targeting” (leading with the crown of the helmet).
    The rule was instituted after a running (Trent Richardson) ran over (pancaked) a safety (Kurt Coleman).

    The rule was for “player safety”.
    If the NFL is going to institute such a rule, then why would this not be a prime example? From the rule book, this seems to be a classic example.

  21. No coincidence none of the Steelers players or Coaches were fined. No coincidence just Bengals players were punished. The league has a integrity problem, and the world witnessed the favoritism to the Steelers.

    No way the Pats get away with using coaches to change outcome of games like Steelers do. Imagine Bill with an attempted trip. A Pat’s coach being caught pulling hair, or another one in the opposing teams defensive huddle. Never would be allowed.

    Shame on NFL, if the nation thought the Superbowl against Seattle was just a onetime thing, they now know it’s a trend.

  22. >>Article 8. Initiating Contact with the Crown of the Helmet

    >>It is a foul if a runner or tackler initiates forcible contact by delivering a blow with the top/crown of his helmet against an opponent when both players are clearly outside the tackle box (an area extending from tackle to tackle and from three yards beyond the line of scrimmage to the offensive team’s end line). Incidental contact by the helmet of a runner or tackler against an opponent shall not be a foul.

    The hit was outside the tackle box .

    How was this hit legal? Was it incidental contact? Didn’t look that way to me. Was it the refs opinion that Shazier would not have hit with the crown of the helmet if Bernard hadn’t spun to his right?
    I assume that’s what it come down to. The league believes that Sazier wouldn’t have hit with the crown of his helmet if Bernard didn’t move?

    I guess I kind of sort of see that.

  23. I don’t buy the “he’s not a defenseless wide receiver” angle…you aren’t allowed to spear anyone with the top of your helmet…unless you are a Steeler…

  24. Finally it is mentioned in the media that is was the Steelers who were screwed by the call, it only took six days. Some Bungle fans still claim Shazier was standing over Bernard gloating over the hit, No, he was running to the end zone for 6!

  25. Goes to show you the NFL doesn’t care about injuries – So they make the rules so convoluted that nobody really understands them and leave everything “open for interpretation”

    These kind of so called “Clean hits” brings more ratings and that is the most important to the NFL.

    Good luck to the Steelers – I personally hope the Broncos give them several concussions via “Clean” hits.

  26. Glad Gio is ok but I hope that they add this hit to Renegade next year when the Bengals play in Pittsburgh. That will surely lead to a tantrum by Burfict again which will cause him to do something stupid again. Please make it happen.

  27. NFL, referees, and the Steelers ran the game on the Bengals Saturday night. Refs watched Vontaze so much, they missed a lot of calls on Pittsburgh. It really is a shame for Bengals fans. We won our first playoff game in 25 years and lost it all at the same time.

    There is a great article on SB Nations Cincinnati site, Cincy Jungle, with a ton of video evidence of how badly we got hosed Saturday. NFL hasn’t even acknowledged it, but they were able to suspend Tez 15 minutes after the game ended. It’s ridiculous really.

  28. To cut off the “the NFL favors the Steelers!” chuckleheads, I’ll simply ask you this.

    If the NFL really loved the Steelers so much, how come they had double the penalty yards that the Bengals did in that game?

  29. I’m glad the league isn’t protecting Marvin Lewis’ players; I’m glad the they do not get the benefit of the doubt. It’s obviously how the Bengals prefer things.

  30. 22-0 if the refs allow the play to play out, which they are instructed to do.. If they do their jobs correctly, Ben doesn’t get hurt.. Brown doesn’t get hurt.. The circus ending doesn’t happen..

  31. he squared up and knocked the breaks off of Bernard…who probably weights 190lbs…listen, there wasn’t malicious intent there, it was an ugly hit but that’s the difference between Shazier’s hit on Bernard and Burfict’s hit on Brown…I stop short of calling it clean but I also don’t necessarily think he was head hunting…it was a bang bang play

  32. Of course he wasn’t fined. That would be an admission of guilt from the NFL that the tackle violated the crown of the helmet penalty and the refs screwed up by not throwing a flag.

  33. dirtdawg54 says:
    Jan 15, 2016 6:38 AM
    He wasn’t fined because Bernard was faking it.
    I hope you apologise to him….if he sits sunday though lol

  34. How is that hit legal but the one Shawn Williams put on Wheaton was flagged? Pretty comical Wheaton got three steps and saw the hit coming and was then hit with a shoulder to his shoulder. Gio was blindsided and hit with the crown of the helmet. 10 years ago all of these hits were legal. It’s funny the NFL claims to be protecting players with the new rules but with hits like the one put on Gio it seems there is still work to do.

  35. It’s ludicrous to consider the Shazier hit “legal”…..that type of hit is why there is a movie called “Concussion”….Also, seems to be very illegal reading the NFL’s rulebook:

    Article 8(f) states in pertinent part:
    “If a player uses any part of his helmet (including the top/crown and forehead/”hairline” parts) or facemask to butt, spear, or ram an opponent violently or unnecessarily. Although such violent or unnecessary use of the helmet and facemask is impermissible against any opponent, game officials will give special attention in administering this rule to protecting those players who are in virtually defenseless postures . . .”

  36. Of course he wasn’t. You can’t hit someone with the crown of your helmet. The hit Shawn Williams gave Marcus Wheaton was text book, but he was flagged. NFL loves their golden child steelers

  37. Shazier shouldn’t have been fined. The cincinnati bungle player wasn’t defenseless and started up field. The hit on AB was far worse. Turdfict got what he deserved.

  38. Shazier shouldn’t have been fined. The cincinnati bungle player wasn’t defenseless and started up field. The hit on AB was far worse. Turdfict got what he deserved.

  39. NOPE. it was the SAME situation that the bengals were flagged for earlier in the game. It’s a penalty. A dirty hit.

    AND… Most importantly… It’s teaching kids a completely stupid and incorrect way to try and tackle someone. SEE WHAT YOU ARE TRYING TO HIT, KIDS.

  40. Bernard had the ball and was turning upfield. The ball went far over Brown’s head and the play was over…..there was not even a need to hit Brown. Two entirely different situations. But Burfict had to show the world what a tough-guy he was. Well the tough-guy knocked his team right out of the playoffs. Nice job Vontaze.

  41. Why fine him? Dan Rooney authorized a $44 million check to his consigliere Goodell this year. The Steelers are above the law. Only a blind homer can deny it.

  42. That’s why the refs missed at least three calls that should have went the Steelers’ way…Couple that with the fact, that the Steelers were flagged more times, and for substantially more yardage…doesn’t sound golden to me…

    Further, on the year (including the playoff game), the Steelers were penalized (accepted) 1010 yds to the Bengals 996 yds. The Steelers and Bengals were the top two in yardage recieved 1278 yds to 1205 yds…

    Sounds pretty even to me…Please take the blinders off…


  43. Look, I am no Bengals fan, but I and others are baffled why you continue to say this hit was legal.

    That his was arguably a violation of NFL Rule 12, Section 2, Article 6(i), which defines unnecessary roughness as “using any part of a player’s helmet or facemask to butt, spear or ram an opponent violently or unnecessarily.” Given the force of Shazier’s hit, it would be hard to argue against that definition.

    It’s also arguable that Shazier could have been penalized for initiating contact with the crown of his helmet outside of the tackle box, a violation of Rule 12, Section 2, Article 8. The rule defines the tackle box as “an area extending from tackle to tackle and from three yards beyond the line of scrimmage to the offensive team’s end line.”

    I am not the first to point out these rules, but you continue to ignore them. Why?

  44. Lesson learned. Hit with the crown of your helmet and be okay. Hit with shoulder be flagged and or suspended.

    Actually this is just Steeler rules. Won’t be accepted for other teams. Broncos watch out.

  45. So why was Chris Culliver penalized earlier in the year for making an even cleaner version of the same hit. Compare the two plays and please explain how Culliver’s was illegal and Shazier’s was legal. Please! If the Shazier hit was clean, someone owes Culliver an apology.

  46. This is absolutely bogus that no penalty and now no fined for the helmet to helmet hit. Just make the helmet to helmet hit a penalty, regardless whether intentional or not. Get with the program NFL.

  47. You and Florio can say it’s legal as much as you want, but it’s not. Read the rule book, then come back to me and tell me how it doesn’t meant the criteria for an illegal hit under the crown of the helmet rule. Or, you know, just respond to one of the many, many comments on this thread or the one you linked. You all have been strangely silent on that front, though, just happily repeating the official NFL line without addressing any of the criticism.

    The NFL isn’t going to fine Shazier because that’s tantamount to admitting their refs significantly impacted a playoff game with their mistakes.

    Oh, and also:

    >“I hope not. I felt like it was a clean hit. I’m not out here trying to hurt anyone. I’m just out here trying to play football.”

    Which is why you danced at midfield and on the sidelines, taunting the crowd and Bernard while he still lay unconscious on the field. No fine or penalty for that either, of course.

    That game may be the beginning of the end of football for me. The NFL is quickly moving toward being “entertainment” rather than a sport, much like the WWE.

  48. He wasn’t fined because there’s no way in hell the league is going to admit a mistake that handed the Steelers a playoff game.

  49. Completely ridiculous the hit on Bernard was legal but the hit on Brown wasn’t, Shazier should also be fined for dancing on the sideline when Bernard was down.

  50. bonniebengal says:
    Jan 15, 2016 8:23 AM
    There are different rules for the Steelers.


    Really? So that’s how the Steelers wound up getting more flags/yards lost due to penalties in this game than did the Bengals in this game?

    Looked like different rules being applied to me when the refs overlooked several defensive pass interference calls against the Bengals or when Burfict jammed his knee in Ben’s shoulder with intent to injure, but what are you going to do.

  51. I can’t believe everyone crying about it being illegal and posting the rules can’t figure this out. All these rules you’re posting talk about spearing, and initiating contact with the crown of the helmet. Did you ever think that it was determined that Bernard’s spin is what initiated this. Go back and watch. Bernard spins against the grain towards the inside trying to make a move, instead of spinning outwardly when catching the outlet pass. 99 times out of 100 the RB is spinning outward in that situation, and Shazier played it that way. The helmet to face contact happened because of Bernard’s awkward move, if he didn’t do that Shazier makes a textbook tackle.

  52. I don’t care if he was fined, I don’t care if was legal. I care that The Steelers whined for 8 weeks about Vontaze celebrating the cleanest tackle you’ll ever see (on Bell), then the Steelers dancing at midfield while Gio Bernard is sleeping on the field. You want to celebrate when you put someone to sleep, that’s fine but don’t open your mouth when another team does the same.

  53. Also I’ll agree that the backlash from this game is severe enough already. Fining him or even fining Porter publicly is probably a very bad PR move for the league. Admitting huge mistakes in officiating isn’t going to help the hatred go away so not talking about it is the best thing for them.

  54. easyeintennessee says:
    Jan 15, 2016 8:29 AM

    There is a great article on SB Nations Cincinnati site, Cincy Jungle, with a ton of video evidence of how badly we got hosed Saturday.


    Are you serious? Of all places, I’m sure SB Nation’s Cincinnati site would provide a balanced, unbiased perspective on this story.

  55. The part of the play that is the worst is him dancing at midfield with 41 while a player is KOD then doing more on the sideline afterwards.

    Clean hit or not, it should be really easy to refrain from dancing in tgat situation.

  56. If they’re not going to enforce it, the NFL should remove the prohibitions against spearing – because that’s exactly what this was.

  57. Ok so it was “legal” but it doesn’t change the fact that there isn’t a coach from the pee-wees to the pros that would tell you that was a proper way to tackle a man. Shazier actually put himself in danger by leading with the top of his head.

  58. Joke, someone in the league office must have been out smoking PCP with Chandler Jones. Illegal hit that violated the crown of the helmet rule when a player is out of the tackle box. He couldn’t have gotten further out if he was out of bounds. What a piece of crap this is and if I were in the Bengals organization, I’d be blowing up Goodell’s and the league offices phones. These days I better say not really blowing them up, it is a figure of speech to say they will ring the phone off the hook.

  59. The nice thing is that after Sunday no one will care about the Steelers because they’re going to smacked in Denver. It’s so tiresome to hear about what a warrior Ben is and how tough Ben is. He’s the football version of Curt Schilling. Torn ligaments in his shoulder and he’s playing? Nope. Cannot happen, mechanically the shoulder doesn’t perform that way. So it’s funny how Ben was the only one that reported the severity. Just nonsense, but thankfully it will end Sunday.

  60. I can’t wait to hear all the crying on Monday. All the if comments…. If Antonio Brown played…. If Ben was healthy….. If Vontaze wasn’t a big bully…. If my aunt had balls she’d be my uncle, it means nothing. The Steelers have zero chance on Sunday. They beat Denver, in Pittsburgh, when they were playing with their back up qb, one of the five or six back ups the Steelers played in the final six games, and without three of their best secondary players. So it’s over. This is where it ends.

  61. If the hit on Bernard was a clean, legal hit than the hit on Wheaton was also a clean hit and never should’ve been flagged. Really the Wheaton hit was a much cleaner hit considering it was shoulder to shoulder and Wheaton dropped his shoulder and ran into Williams. Unfortunately there are double standards in every NFL game and the calls are going to go to the team most favored at that time. It’s the way it has been for years. The Steelers got the calls last week but I guarentee Denver will get them Sunday.

  62. I agree the call is subjective and in this game, a game the refs never had control of from the first play. The hit on Wheaton was clean and this will get everyone upset but the penalty of Burfict was questionable. His feet never left the ground, he led with his shoulder, not his head, and he actually pulled up trying to shy away from contact. Brown was leading with his head in fact.

  63. Modern day head hunters are ruining our national pastime. Zac Thomas used to knock players out with clean hits.

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