When Pittsburgh Steelers safety Mike Mitchell argued that Cincinnati Bengals safety George Iloka didn’t deserve a suspension for hitting Mitchell’s teammate Antonio Brown, you knew the punishment might be wrong.
On Wednesday, Iloka’s suspension was overturned by appeals officer Derrick Brooks. Instead, he’ll be fined $35,464.50. That’s still a hefty penalty, but better than missing a game and losing a game check.
Iloka was penalized for hitting Brown in the head on Monday night as Brown was coming down with a catch in the end zone. It was a vicious hit, but it did seem weird it got the same punishment as New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski hitting Buffalo Bills cornerback Tre’Davious White when White was on the ground after a play. Gronkowski’s hit was just a cheap shot that had nothing to do with football, Iloka’s hit at least happened in the context of a football play. That’s what Mitchell argued on Twitter when Iloka was suspended on Tuesday.
The NFL wants to clean up the game, and it wasn’t surprising they suspended Steelers receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster and Iloka for nasty hits. Smith-Schuster’s suspension was upheld, probably because he also taunted Vontaze Burfict when he was down on the ground. Monday night’s game featured a lot of ugly moments, and it wasn’t a good look for the NFL.
However, in Iloka’s case, the NFL didn’t feel his hit rose to the level of a one-game suspension.
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