I want to expand on something I mentioned in a tweet when I first saw the release from the league office on Texans DE Antonio Smith’s suspension. It doesn’t have anything to do with the violation and the reasoning for the suspension. The league terms it a “flagrant violation” of NFL safety rules.
In the first quarter of last Saturday’s game against Miami, Smith forcibly removed the helmet of Dolphins guard RICHIE INCOGNITO and then swung the helmet at Incognito in an attempt to strike him with it.
This action violated Rule 12, Section 2, Article 16 (page 71) of the NFL Rule Book, which states:
“A player may not use a helmet that is no longer worn by anyone as a weapon to strike, swing at, or throw at an opponent.”
It goes on to explain that the player can appeal w/ in three business days and have it hear and ruled upon in advance of Sunday’s game (vs. New Orleans.)
I found the names of the two officers that could hear and decide the appeal to be very interesting. One is Ted Cottrell, a former long-time defensive coach in the NFL. That didn’t catch my eye. The other name did. The other appeals officer was just appointed for this season. It’s Matt Birk, who retired after a 15-year NFL career, the last four of which were spent playing center for the Baltimore Ravens.
The Texans have begun a bit of a rivalry with the Ravens. Birk and Smith spent time in the trenches four times in the last three years against each other on some plays. Most specifically a pair of plays immediately came to mind, which you can see below.
In 2011, Houston played at Baltimore and in the first quarter while trying to offer up a goal line stand, Smith committed not one, but two personal foul penalties. Both of which resulted in first downs and ultimately led to a Ravens touchdown. Both were committed while locked up with guard Andre Gurode and the first one really fits the discussion regarding Smith’s current predicament. Take a long at what happens.
Gurode blocks Smith, his hands high up in Smith face and facemask. Smith takes him to the ground and dislodges Gurode’s helmet from his head. A block not all that dissimilar to the one attempted by Richie Incognito this past Saturday night. Not all that dissimilar to many blocks in the trenches. Take notice of the Ravens lineman who is standing right next to Smith, taking in what is going on. Yep, Matt Birk.
– Wex (@awexler)