Week 6: Panthers at Buccaneers
Dante Wesley of the Panthers was ejected for a flagrant hit on kick returner Clifton Smith of the Buccaneers. Smith called for a fair catch, and Wesley flattened him to the turf long before the ball even got there. It was penalized as both fair-catch interference and a personal foul, however the fair-catch signal is irrelevant in the fact that this was a malicious hit on a defenseless receiver (video). Smith appeared to be knocked unconscious by the hit.
The ball immediately bounced out of bounds, allowing for a bench-clearing conference to develop around Wesley. The officials indicated multiple post-play penalties by throwing hats (to indicate a second penalty after his flag had been thrown), however all of these penalties were picked up.
Wesley will certainly be fined heavily for the hit, and we think that a suspension is likely. The last suspension for an on-field incident was Elbert Mack of the Buccaneers, who laid a helmet-to-helmet hit on Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan. A suspension announcement would be likely on Tuesday.
As for the others involved in the brawl after the play, the league will be examining the videotape for thoseâ€”particularly those who came off the sidelineâ€”to mete out fines later in the week.
John Parry was the referee.