A few players have been handed suspensions after Monday nights game between Pittsburgh and Cincinnati. Pittsburgh receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster and Cincinnati safety George Iloka have each been suspended one game for violations of safety-related rules.
Neither player was ejected and both are expected to appeal the bans.
Smith-Schuster took out Bengal Vontaze Burfict with a vicious block then stood over him taunting and was flagged. Jon Runyan, NFL VP of football operations handed down the suspensions and made it clear to Smith-Schuster the taunting played a role in the following statement.
“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.”
Smith-Schuster apologized on Twitter later in the night.
I don’t have any intentions to hurt anyone when I play football. I didn’t mean to hurt Vontez Burfict, I just wanted to throw a block for my teammate. I apologize for standing over him and that isn’t me. Praying he gets better.
— JuJu Smith-Schuster (@TeamJuJu) December 5, 2017
Iloka was suspended for a hit to the head and neck of Pittsburgh receiver Antonio Brown, who was deemed defenseless. Runyan released this statement along with his suspension.
“On a play which began with 3:55 left in the game, you violently struck a defenseless receiver in the head and neck area,” Runyan wrote. “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.”
Smith-Schuster is set to sit for a divisional game next week against the Baltimore Ravens while Iloka will miss a game against the Chicago Bears.