The heavy hammer of discipline was fast, as the league suspended Raiders running back Marshawn Lynch less than 24 hours after he was ejected from an epic Thursday night game against the Chiefs.
Lynch was ejected for physically contacting an official when he pushed line judge Julian Mapp. A late hit on Raiders quarterback Derek Carr precipitated a melee after the play; Mapp was trying to separate players when Lynch inserted himself into the scuffle.
Unnecessary contact with an official is a 15-yard penalty and is an automatic ejection in nearly all cases.
What made Lynch’s actions particularly worthy of harsh punishment is that Lynch was on the sideline during the play and ran onto the field to join the fracas.
Vice president of football operations Jon Runyan is responsible for setting the punishment, and laid out the case against Lynch in a letter to him:
You made deliberate physical contact with one of our game officials as he was diffusing [sic] an active confrontation between players. You were disqualified for your inappropriate and unsportsmanlike actions. Your conduct included pushing the game official and grabbing his jersey…You were not directly involved in the active confrontation that the game official was attempting to diffuse [sic], nor were you a participant in the play that initiated the confrontation. You were the only player from either team who ran from the sideline to midfield to insert himself into a situation in which he was not directly involved.
Lynch has the ability to appeal the suspension by the end of the day on Wednesday. It is likely that he will win the appeal and be assessed a heavy fine; there is precedent for the league assessing large penalties to have them be reduced through the appeals process. (An appeal of a suspension by Odell Beckham Jr. was denied in 2015, but the offenses were quite extreme in that case.) Given that there was no player-safety issue, the league would feel it still sent a strong message through a heavy fine, despite the fact that it is a small fraction of Lynch’s weekly salary. But, nothing is certain, and as it stands right now, Lynch has to be ready to be benched for a week.