Jon Runyan defends decision not to fine Jadeveon Clowney

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Former Eagles offensive lineman Jon Runyan is not a popular man in Philadelphia right now, after he decided not to fine Seahawks defensive end Jadeveon Clowney for a hit that knocked Carson Wentz out of the playoffs with a concussion. But Runyan is standing by his decision.

Runyan, who made the call on not fining Clowney in his capacity as the league’s Vice President of Policy and Rules Administration, said on WIP that he doesn’t think Clowney was leading with his head into Wentz’s head.

“So when you go back and look at this play, it is really, really close,” Runyan said. “Carson’s elbow is still off the ground as Clowney’s arm . . . the first thing that contacts Wentz is Clowney’s arm to his hip and lower back area and then his shoulder rolls in and then his helmet goes in.”

That’s a tough explanation for the Eagles to swallow: Although it may be true that Clowney’s arm touched Wentz’s lower back before the helmet-to-helmet contact, the force of the blow came from Clowney’s helmet and into Wentz’s helmet, and it knocked Wentz out of the game. That’s the kind of hit that the NFL is supposedly trying to remove from the sport of football, and yet Clowney got away with it.

51 responses to “Jon Runyan defends decision not to fine Jadeveon Clowney

  1. I agree, Wentz was not down. But what you’re saying is as long as tap you on the shoulder first, to let you know I’m coming and then hit you helmet to helmet, then we’re all good?

    It’s amazing how the NFL preaches player safety, but let plays like this stand as unpunished.

  2. So as long as something besides your helmet makes contact first, you can hit helmet-to-helmet all you want!

    Precedent set for every future appeal. Nice work, Runyan!

  3. If you want to fix this problem. Go back to the leather helmets. Bet no one leads with the head after that.

  4. John Runyan is wrong. And now he can’t ever go home, lol.

    The bigger issue is that Clowney managed to totally skate on the helmet to helmet hit that punched out Wentz… no suspension, no fines.

  5. Last time I checked its still Tackle Football, right? It definitely was the right no call. Philly, that’s your problem if your QB takes himself out of the game. Could you see Brady doing that? Hell no!! Philly, you have a big problem on your hands. I thought you had to be tough to be an Eagle.

  6. Eagle fans are the worst. Wentz could have punched someone in the face and broke his wrist and they would be calling for the face punched guy to be suspended and pay for wentz’s medical bills.

  7. Clean hit. Led with the shoulder. It’s football. Stop whining Eagles fans you’re embarrassing yourselves. Wentz had 5 quarters at home against the Seahawks this year and produced 9 points. You would have lost anyway.

  8. Runyan should be a game official, he gets things just as wrong as they do.

    Clowney clearly led with his helmet, the other contact was incidental and almost coincidental with the contact to the head.

    This was not just a football play turning out badly–this was a defender targeting the opposing teams QB. And because of people like Runyan, he got away with it.

    I’m not an Eagles fan and I generally like watching the Seahawks. But what Clowney did should have brought a fine and a suspension. So much for the NFL protecting player from head trauma.

  9. If it was an NCAA game there is no question it’s targeting and he’s ejected. Not sure how it went completely unpunished in the NFL. Was unnecessary. Just a cheap shot going after someone that was going down already. Seahawks do that all the time, try to hit someone at the last second. They play bountygate style football without the bounties.

  10. The reasonable, accurate articulated statements above seem to comeback in a 50/50 thunbs up vs thumbs down. in some cases 60/40 in regard to NOT calling a penalty suspension or fine.

    Know what that means? the non call was the correct call. I watched it I am a fan on neither team. The helmet contact was incidental, which is what the rule allows. Wentz needs to learn how to slide period. Eagles fans need to stop belly aching, your season is over. This doesn’t happen to Brady or Rodgers because they don’t let it happen, they slide and are down before the opposing player is near them.

  11. Leave it to Philly fans to hurl stones at a man who honorably stands by his decision. Right or wrong the time has come to move along and be adults.

  12. I just don’t get how he could literally lower his helmet (his eyes aren’t even looking up) into another players head as he’s already on the way down and not even get a fine. Any position and this should have been a fine, i’m even more surprised that it’s not considering the leagues desire to keep QB’s without grass stains.

  13. Remember that Wentz played five plays – and played them well, calling protections and doing full progressions – after this hit. So although it _looks_ like a concussive hit, there’s no evidence the concussion happened here.

    I think the NFL could support either no-call or deserves-a-fine here. One can make a good case each way. And maybe when that’s the case, no-call is the way to go.

  14. Clowney clearly targeted Wentz’s head.
    Players get fined for minor transgressions like a hand brushing a QBs head.

    If Runyon can’t see that, this was much worse, then he is unqualified for his job.

  15. Did he also defend the fine for the blindside block that wasn’t? What Clowney did was as blatant as it comes. The officiating has been a joke for several years. It’s downright pathetic now.

  16. He never mentions or acknowledges the fact that Clowney redirects his head to make contact with Wentz’s head.

    That omission is crucial, and can be construed as evidence that Runyan made a mistake.

  17. Helmets are constantly hitting helmets. It always happens. He didn’t lead with the helmet apparently if his arm made contact first. It looks terrible, the result is terrible – but that doesn’t mean the hit was against the rules and needed a penalty.

  18. I think people should be giving Clowney a little more credit. He did exactly what he was trying to do, and he got away with it. He intentionally hit the QB with a late cheap shot so he could knock him out of the game. It’s called unnecessary roughness. The plan worked to perfection, and Clowney’s team won the game. Runyon stated that Clowney didn’t lead with his helmet. I didn’t know the rule book had been changed to only include helmet to helmet hits. So if that’s all Runyon is talking about, nobody should argue. I just thought there should be some type of action taken to try to discourage trying to injure the opposing QB in a playoff game. But if Runyon was only asked to look for helmet to helmet contact, then don’t blame him. I’m just not sure that’s what was being asked. Oh well, maybe we’ll start seeing more guys put the opposing QB out of the game early in a playoff game. I’ll bet when the TV ratings suffer, Runyon will come to a different conclusion.

  19. common sense to me both are really the same if you slide or dive you’re giving yourself up it’s actually easier not to hit the QB when he dives than when he slides both should be penalties.

  20. Why would the NFL appoint an ex-player who was one of the dirtiest players in the league when he played – responsible for fines and penalties for on field conduct by current players? Having Runyan in charge is going to dry up that revenue stream pretty quickly.

  21. ‘Wentz has to learn to slide. He’s never going to get the benefit of the doubt if he keeps diving forward.’

    So it’s Carson’s fault that he was cheap-shotted and put out of the game. Let’s not hold Clowney responsible…

  22. The fallacy of this whole debate is the NFL thinking it can legislate these accidental helmet collisions out of the game. They can’t. Clowney lowered his SHOULDER which naturally brought is head along with it. The helmet-to-helmet hit was unintentional and incidental. The game refs, the NY official and Runyan all made the right call.

  23. If you slide head first, you risk getting clocked, especially a QB. It didn’t look like a cheap shot by Clowney, just a bang-bang play. It’s football. It’s a collision sport.

  24. Take all the player ‘armor’ off and this stuff wouldn’t happen. Helmet technology has grown immensely in the last 20 years but it’s basically a battering ram for defensive players (even offensive too). I’m not saying have no helmet, as lots of concussions come from incidental knees, elbows, etc….but I’m curious of the amount of concussions in Rugby for example, where there is a lot of hitting still with a much smaller helmet style headwear. I’m too lazy to look it up so there’s a chance I’m completely wrong here and Rugby is worse for concussions, lol.

  25. What a joke! How you can defend a clear helmet-to-helmet hit when it appears as though Clowney is actually lowering his helmet to intentionally strike when his helmet is beyond me. The NFL becomes more of a joke everyday and people like Goodell and people like this who defend this type of action need to go in order for the Integrity of the game to flourish and if not then viewership will continue to go down you will continue to lose money and the game will just never be the same more and more people are tuning out if you don’t get it yet you will when you feel it in your pocketbook

  26. If you watch MANY plays in slow motion the defender looks guilty. It wasn’t a cheap play, the Eagles fans are looking for excuses. If an Eagles player had made the same play they would have loved it.

  27. People refusing to acknowledge what Clowney did always conflate two things that need to be thought of separately. They talk about it being a bang bang play etc and that Wentz was a runner etc. But that only addresses the face that it was a cheap shot and a late/unnecessary hit. The part that should have earned him a suspension was what we all saw him do in addition to that, the dirty play portion where he very obviously went after Wentzs helmet with his own.

    Throwing yourself at a runner you dont necessarily need to is one thing, targeting their head with yours and driving their head into the ground is completely separate.

    There is no excuse for that part and if the NFL was serious about combating head injuries they would have done something here.

  28. Still can’t see how this isn’t a personal foul regardless of helmet first or not. The offensive player is prone to the ground and defensive player dives into his back heading to the ground. He didn’t aim high where he was running — Clowney’s angle was clearly to the ground and the only reason you’d have that angle of attack is to spear the player. Fifteen yards and get out your checkbook!

  29. I think Runyan may have suffered too many blows to the head to come up with that explanation. The fact that his arm hit first is irrelevant. The dude drove his shoulder and head into a guy that was heard towards the ground. Not like Wentz was trying squeeze out another foot or two – he was basically stopped. From a guy with no interest in who won that game – it was a dirty hit.

  30. I don’t really care if he got fined, but the refs missed the penalty, which is the bigger issue. Also, the league should look into plays where a helmet to helmet penalty knocks a player out of the game. On top of the 15 yards, the team who loses a player. In this case Eagles (Wentz)should get to choose a player on Seattle who stays out until the injured player can return. IE: Eagles choose. Russell. Wilson to sit the remainder of the game.

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