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Damontae Kazee suspended for remainder of season

Kazee serving a suspension after the defenseless receiver hit he was ejected for Saturday

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The NFL has handed down a lengthy suspension to Steelers’ safety Damontae Kazee for his defenseless receiver hit on Colts receiver Michael Pittman Jr. during their game on Sunday, suspending Kazee for the remainder of the regular season and any Steelers playoff games. With 8:49 to play in the second quarter, Kazee forcibly hit Pittman in the head/neck area while the receiver was attempting to catch a pass. Kazee was flagged for the hit and was subsequently disqualified from the game.

Update, 12/20: Kazee’s suspension was modified on appeal to only include the 3 remaining regular season games, but not any playoff games.

In the statement from the NFL, vice president of football operations Jon Runyan noted that Kazee violated Rule 12-2-9(b)(1) which states that it is a foul if a player “forcibly hits the defenseless player’s head or neck area with the helmet, facemask, forearm, or shoulder, even if the initial contact is lower than the player’s neck, and regardless of whether the defensive player also uses his arms to tackle the defenseless player by encircling or grasping him.” The league noted that at the time of the hit, Pittman was considered a defenseless player and that it was Kazee’s responsibility to avoid illegal contact on Pittman.

The league also considered Kazee to be a repeat offender of the league’s health and safety rules for its players and likely increased the length of Kazee’s suspension accordingly. Kazee may appeal the suspension, which will be expedited, and that appeal will be heard and decided by either Derrick Brooks or James Thrash, the hearing officers jointly appointed by the NFL and NFLPA to rule on appeals of on-field player suspensions.

Multiple-game suspensions of NFL players for game infractions

Player Team Season Suspension Reason
Vontaze Burfict OAK 2019 12 games* flagrant lowering helmet to initiate contact, numerous past infractions in a continuous span (ejected)
Myles Garrett CLE 2019 6 games* removing a player’s helmet and using it as a weapon (ejected)
Albert Haynesworth TEN 2005 5 games stepping on face of prone, helmetless player (ejected)
Kareem Jackson DEN 2023 4 games flagrant lowering helmet to initiate contact, 3rd play following 2-game suspension (no penalty)
Damontae Kazee PIT 2023 3 games flagrant defenseless player hit with previous safety violations (ejected)
Vontaze Burfict CIN 2017 3 games preseason blindside block/unnecessary roughness with prior suspendable infractions (no penalty)
Vontaze Burfict CIN 2015 3 games AFC WILD CARD multiple infractions of defenseless player hits (no penalty)
Denzel Perryman HOU 2023 2 games flagrant hit by lowering helmet, multiple offenses
Kareem Jackson DEN 2023 2 games flagrant defenseless receiver hit, second ejectable offense of season (ejected)
Javon Wims CHI 2020 2 games punching an opponent (ejected)
Maurkice Pouncey PIT 2019 2 games punching and kicking (ejected)
Brandon Meriweather WAS 2014 2 games preseason defenseless player hit, multiple prior illegal hits (prior suspension reduced 2 games to 1 on appeal)
Ndamukong Suh DET 2011 2 games stomped on prone player (ejected)
Charles Martin GB 1986 2 games slamming quarterback long after pass thrown (ejected)
Antonio Smith HOU 2013 1+ game§ preseason using a helmet as a weapon, but no contact (no penalty)

*Remainder of the season, including postseason (did not miss postseason games).
Served beginning Week 1.
Appeal reduction: Burfict (2017) from 5 games to 3, Jackson (2023a) 4 games to 2, Kazee to restore playoff eligibility, Pouncey 3 games to 2.
§1 regular season game and 2 preseason games, but loss of 1 game check.
Sources: So You Think You Know Football?Football Zebras research

Chris currently resides in Michigan and has been a sports official for over 30 years. By day, he works in research in the automotive industry. By night, when he isn't watching his kids play sports, he officiates high school football, softball, and basketball while nerding out on all things related to officiating.

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