JUJU SMITH-SCHUSTER of the Pittsburgh Steelers and GEORGE ILOKA of the Cincinnati Bengals have been suspended without pay for one game each for violations of safety-related playing rules in Monday’s game.
NFL Vice President of Football Operations JON RUNYAN issued the suspensions.
In his letter to Smith-Schuster notifying him of the suspension, Runyan noted that Smith-Schuster violated Rule 12, Section 2, Article 7 which prohibits unnecessary contact against a player who is in a defenseless posture and Rule 12, Section 3, Article 1 which prohibits unsportsmanlike conduct.
“You are suspended for the dangerous and unsportsmanlike acts you committed during the fourth quarter of last night’s game. Specifically, with 7:10 remaining, on a passing play to a running back, you lined up a defender and delivered a violent and unnecessary blindside shot to his head and neck area. You then “celebrated” the play by standing over him and taunting him. The contact you made with your opponent placed the opposing player at risk of serious injury and could have been avoided. Your conduct following the hit fell far below the high standards of sportsmanship expected of an NFL player.”
In his letter to Iloka notifying him of the suspension, Runyan stated that Iloka violated Rule 12, Section 2, Article 7 which prohibits forcibly hitting a defenseless player’s head or neck area with the helmet, facemask, forearm or shoulder.
“On a play which began with 3:55 left in the game, you violently struck a defenseless receiver in the head and neck area. The Competition Committee has clearly expressed its goal of ‘eliminating flagrant hits that have no place in our game’ and has encouraged the League office to suspend offenders for egregious violations such as the one you committed last night.”
Both Smith-Schuster and Iloka will be eligible to return to their team’s active rosters on Monday, December 11 following the Baltimore-Pittsburgh and Chicago-Cincinnati games on December 10.
Under the Collective Bargaining Agreement, the suspensions may be appealed within three business days. Appeals are heard and decided by either DERRICK BROOKS or JAMES THRASH, the officers jointly appointed and compensated by the NFL and NFLPA to decide appeals of on-field player discipline.