PITTSBURGH (93-7 THE FAN) — JuJu Smith-Schuster was suspended for a game for wiping out Vontaze Burfict with a borderline block and subsequently standing over him briefly in celebration. I could independently take that decision or leave it — I’m not really in agreement that JuJu did anything suspension worthy, but if the NFL supposes it necessary to put him down a game, so be it. It is what it is. Understandable, I guess.
But. And I mean buuuuuuuuutttttt…..
But George Iloka of the Bengals better be made to serve the same one-game penalty for walloping his head into the head of Antonio Brown in the same game.
Get this: Iloka won’t be. It is stunning, it is ridiculous, it is ineptitude of the highest order from a league that has become a laughingstock in the punishment and player safety departments. It is, no question, comparatively one of the biggest head-scratchers I have seen from the National Football League in quite some time.
Throw in Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski getting just a one-game suspension for his elbow action that resembled a WWE move (and caused a head injury to a defenseless man) and I don’t know what to think other than the league dislikes taunting just as much — or more — than it does guys who blast others in the melon.
You see, on Wednesday afternoon — about a half-day after it was decided JuJu’s suspension won’t be overturned and he will sit against the Ravens on Sunday night — Iloka’s appeal was heard and his suspension was flipped. He will be made to pay a fine in the area of $36,000 instead and will be eligible to play this week.
What a farce. What a complete sham.
So what did we learn here? That’s the thing — I really don’t know. It would be one thing if Smith-Schuster had a long and involved, or even marginal, history of playing outside the confines of what is deemed to be acceptable sportsmanship. But the guy is just a rookie and, to date, has really only thrown some devastating blocks, had a huge catch-and-run, displayed a gazillion dollar smile, had his bike stolen and recovered, got his driver’s license and has been generally a wonderful citizen with a city eating out of the palm of his hand.
JuJu is the farthest thing from a repeat offender or bad seed, making the one-game suspension all that more quizzical.
All that said, back to what we learned in all of this: Not much. But there is one thing to be extracted in this hullaballoo and clamor other than the NFL greatly erred with lifting the Iloka suspension while keeping JuJu’s at a game. What is to be learned is that Antonio Brown, when he was thumped by Iloka, shouldn’t have been so quick to jump up and celebrate.
AB should have stayed down awhile, even if he was totally fine, he should have sold it a little bit, or even a lot. Then, and only then, would the NFL possibly have taken Iloka’s hit seriously. What we saw today — with the suspension being overturned — shows they didn’t take the hit seriously.
And maybe, just maybe, it had to do with the fact that Brown was totally fine after absorbing it. If that was the case, that adds another layer to this big joke.