Falcons safety Keanu Neal suffered a season-ending torn Achilles on Sunday, and he was so upset that he was weeping on the field. He was also so upset that he took off his helmet and threw it — drawing a 15-yard penalty.
That didn’t sit well with Falcons coach Dan Quinn, who said he wishes the officials would have cut Neal some slack in the heat of the moment.
“I would hope in those instances we use common sense and pick up the flag,” Quinn said, via Jason Butt of TheAthletic.com.
Quinn is right. The rule making it a penalty to remove a helmet is intended to curtail problems like taunting an opponent, getting in the face of an official, or excessive celebration after a big play. It certainly wasn’t intended to penalize a player who’s just been hurt, is taking off his helmet as the medical personnel approach, and throws the helmet in his frustration.
The officials may not have known why Neal threw his helmet at first, but once they saw him crying while he talked to the medical staff and saw him carted off before the next play, they should have realized that this wasn’t worth a personal foul penalty.