Referee didn’t see enough on Travathan hit to warrant ejection


For the vast majority in the shrinking minority who were still watching Thursday night’s game in the second half, Bears linebacker Danny Trevathan‘s knockout blow to Packers receiver Davante Adams prompted a cry that Trevathan should have been ejected. After the game, referee John Hussey explained why he wasn’t.

“From my perspective I just didn’t see enough to rise to that level,” Hussey told a pool reporter. “That issue I would have is a judgment call. Was it egregious, was it completely unnecessary? I didn’t have enough information from my perspective to make that.”

It’s hard to fault Hussey because big hits like that happen quickly, and it’s easy to miss them when: (1) among the players; (2) not in pads; and (3) motivated primarily by the survival instinct. And to the extent that the owners adopted a rule on “automatic ejections for egregious hits to the head” in March, the 2017 rule book contains no new language mandating automatic ejections for egregious hits to the head.

The hit nevertheless violated the rules. As Hussey explained it, Adams had made the catch and become a runner, and the defense had stopped his forward progress. In that situation, the player becomes “defenseless,” which means that he can be hit — but that he can’t be hit in the head or neck area or with a helmet.

Trevathan’s hit also appeared to violate the rule preventing the ramming of another player with the helmet, regardless of whether the player is defenseless. While typically a rule that applies when a runner decides to dip his helmet beyond the tackle box in order to ward off a defender, it also applies to defensive players who “line up” an opponent for a blow of that kind.

Ultimately, the ejection didn’t happen because officials continue to be reluctant to toss players, since that could be viewed as affecting the outcome of a game. The next question becomes whether the league office will suspend Trevathan. And that’s an issue for a separate post.

27 responses to “Referee didn’t see enough on Travathan hit to warrant ejection

  1. Blah!!! Blah!!! Blah!!!

    THE TRUTH: 20 years ago… that hit would have not been questioned and the player would have been promoted by the league.

    Blah!!! Blah!!! Blah!!!

  2. They really need to allow officials to review replay in these situations if they want to take player safety seriously.

    Given the circumstances–players on both sides immediately called for medical staff to come to Adams aid–I am shocked the refs didn’t see enough to eject–I mean, if they were looking for forward progress on Adams, how could they not see it was a helmet to helmet and totally unnecessary?

    Contrast this to the Seahawks/Packers game, in which Jeremy Lane was ejected for throwing a punch. Replay showed Adams pulling down Jeremy Lane by his facemask, and then a tussle on the ground. It is concerning that they are willing to eject readily for even a hint of a punch being thrown, but not for a blow to the head when they should be watching to see when to blow the whistle.

    Players are fast and these hits happen quickly–if they are trying to make things safer, part of the process is to use replay to double check before throwing someone out.

    Or, apparently, trying to see if a punt was tipped when calling roughing the kicker. The Green bay punter was lucky to avoid major injury there–and there was nothing even remotely close to the punt being tipped.

  3. Interesting because judging by the crowd’s reaction, they all saw it just like we all saw it on TV.

  4. If the refs are afraid, make ejections automatic. Soccer figured this out already. Use red cards. Two unsportsmanlike penalties and/or personal fouls and you’re ejected, and miss the next game.

  5. If Trevathan, and every other defender, keeps their eyes on the ball carrier they are tackling, not only do they stand a better chance of making the tackle, they won’t have to worry about fines and suspension.

    Since he did not, the NFL ought to make it clear that he should have. If they fail to do so, it is a clear message that they don’t really care whether players use their helmets as point of impact weapons.

  6. As a Packer fan I was (and am) perfectly okay with no ejection here. It was a huge hit and it was unnecessary… but this is football. It’s a violent sport played by violent men and Trevathan has always been a big hitter. It’s not like he stepped way out of character to deliver a big hit.

    Trevathan will surely be fined, perhaps heavily, and I’m good with that. Suspended? I don’t know. If he is suspended, I would hope it isn’t anything crazy like the six games some people are calling for, unless he’s been suspended previously, on more than one occasion, for similar actions.

    My biggest hope is that Davante Adams is okay and suffers no lingering problems.

  7. After the hit, it looks like Devante could have broke his neck except #38 on the defense was behind him to stop the momentum….Nasty hit, prayers that he will be alright…

  8. Affect THAT game? Laughable. It was a blow out from the beginning. Danny is a psycho that shouldn’t be playing anymore. This isn’t his first rodeo. Definitely should be a huge suspension. I’d say 4-6 games would be appropriate. If it was my choice, he would be banned for life. He could’ve killed him. That was blatantly in response to Adams and Hicks getting into it just a couple minutes prior.

  9. Before everyone rags on Hussey, remember that watching the wide reciever IS NOT his on-field responsibility. As Referee, he’s positioned 7-10 yds behind the QB an on that play, would still be watching the QB & linemen just in case something happens (ie a guard punching a DE, a NT taking a cheap shot at QB, etc.) He would not be focused on watching the tackle at all like we viewers would be. Fans focus on the main action, field officials need to watch everyone.

    Need to brush up on on-field duties, but this call belongs to either the Side Judge or Line Judge, depending on who got Adams’ route. They would throw the flag and inform Hussey on who to toss.

  10. As for calling for ejection – who cares. I’d rather Travathan get suspended four FULL games and actually lose 4 game cheques rather than be only ejected and suspended three games. Getting ejected out of a game already out of reach (or half over) is not punishment.

  11. I think going the NCAA route and quickly reviewing the hit to determine if ejection is necessary is best. Then it isn’t so much a judgment call.

  12. I honestly didnt think the hit was dirty. The receiver fropped down right as the tackler came up to make the hit. If forward progress was stopped the whistle show of been blown. What is the defender supposed to do? I’ve seen several running backs get held up just like that WR but spin out of it and make a big play.

    Dont get me wrong it sucks the receiver got hurt, I just dont know how you can call that a penalty when people are shifting at the moment before a tackle. His concussion rests solely on the refs.

  13. Yes, the game moves fast and it’s sometimes hard to hit a moving target where you should, but Adams wasn’t moving. He was being held up by several defenders. Travathan aimed for his head. And then, even worse, he acted like he wanted to fight any Packer player who made a comment to him or tried to stick up for their teammate. It was like he went into total roid rage after that. He needs to sit at least a few games.

  14. Didn’t see it live and after all the uproar in comments last night, found some highlights, and then was expecting much much worse.

    A little bit late, but I’ve seen much later hits, and sure he ducked his head a bit, like 6 inches, but in the heat of action and speed, not outrageous. The injury, as bad as it sounds, makes the hit that much worse.

    Put it this way, I don’t think it was intent to injure like so many are crying out.

    The guy has to be smarter and avoid head shots like that, and that’s correct that the stuff has to be eliminated, and in this case I get that, and hope Adams will be fine after that.

    I can see a couple game suspension becuase if the message it will send, but I also agree with the refs in not kicking him out given the circumstances.

  15. akira554 is spot on. If the U was where he used to be, this probably wasn’t missed. That is textbook for an ejection at any level, and how no one saw it good enough to warrant an ejection is mind-blowing with that many guys on the field. I know it’s NFL football and stuff happens fast, but Adams could’ve really been permanently injured there. If this league wants to keep jumping on its soapbox over CTE and concussions and player safety, they need to better utilize replay like the NCAA does now, if they want to pretend to be serious about their stance. Anyone else convinced there’s another upstairs official with a mic and earpiece that radioed Hussey to hustle in there and to throw his flag? He had to be blocked out of it as much as the U was. I see at least a 1 game suspension. I see some officials getting downgraded and maybe having a week off between that and the blocked punt that Helen Keller would’ve known wasn’t close to being touched either. Refs looked as bad as the Bears last night in spots.

  16. CannedHeat says:
    September 29, 2017 at 10:01 am

    I see some officials getting downgraded and maybe having a week off between that and the blocked punt that Helen Keller would’ve known wasn’t close to being touched either. Refs looked as bad as the Bears last night in spots.

    The phantom tip of the punt really surprised me. At first, it looked like the refs just took the Bears’ word for it. After seeing the replays, it was pretty apparent that that’s exactly what happened. That’s pretty troubling, no matter what teams were involved.

  17. “From my perspective I just didn’t see enough to rise to that level,” Hussey told a pool reporter. “That issue I would have is a judgment call. Was it egregious, was it completely unnecessary? I didn’t have enough information from my perspective to make that.”

    As the head ref, I understand you might not be in a position to make that call.

    But every other guy on your TEAM missed Trevathan SPEARING a player IN THE HEAD, knocking said player UNCONSCIOUS, and not one of your guys relayed that information to you? I find that incredibly hard to believe.

  18. So if that hit doesn’t result in an ejection that means you can do anything and never get ejected. Way to go NFL for taking a stand for player safety. I like the idea mentioned by someone else that they should start using the system used by soccer. That would have been a red card and the Bears would have had to play defense with ten men the rest of the game. If they were to do that then maybe players would get the memo.

  19. This wasn’t a bang bang play which are usually too quick to view without replay. Adams was already wrapped up and fighting for more yards, which was a “slow motion” play. Then Travathan comes in and nails him in the facemask. For the ref to claim he didn’t see it is incompetence and to not eject the player is pure cowardice. The refs were there watching the play.

  20. Why not just use the same system as college? Targeting is an automatic rejection, but it’s always reviewed. Key players may miss a game but that’s a small price to pay for making the game safer by lowering the strike zone.

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