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Bengals S George Iloka and Steelers WR Juju Smith-Schuster suspended 1-game each

Two suspensions have come from the Bengals vs Steelers Monday Night Football matchup.

NFL: Pittsburgh Steelers at Cincinnati Bengals Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

Update: Bengals safety George Iloka has had his suspension overturned and will now simply be fined for his hit on Antonio Brown on Monday night. Steelers wide receiver Juju Smith-Schuster had his suspension upheld and will not play on Sunday against the Ravens.

The NFL has suspended Bengals safety George Iloka and Steelers wide receiver Juju Smith-Schuster following the teams’ Monday Night Football clash.

Smith-Schuster took out and concussed Bengals linebacker Vontaze Burfict on a dirty hit and then stood over him afterward taunting him. He was flagged twice, once for unnecessary roughness and once for taunting. For some reason, the unnecessary roughness call was rejected in favor of the taunting call.

Smith-Schuster violated Rule 12, Section 2, Article 7 which prohibits unnecessary contact against a player who is in a defenseless posture and Rule 12, Section 3, Article 1 which prohibits unsportsmanlike conduct.

Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown mentioned he’d be paying Smith-Schuster’s fine for injuring Burfict and delivering “karma”.

Moments after the hit on Burfict, Iloka hit Brown in the endzone on a Steelers touchdown. It was an illegal play in which Iloka launched with his head at Brown and used his head as a weapon. The play tied up the game after the Steelers had trailed throughout.

“I was just trying to jar it out of there. There wasn’t anything to it,” Iloka said on Monday night after the gam. “They threw the ball, saw the corner right behind him, you’re just trying to get the ball out … I was just trying to jar out the ball the best I can. Stuff happens fast. That’s all I was trying to do.”

Here’s a look at the press release from the NFL following the suspensions.

NFL’s letter to Smith-Schuster

"You are suspended for the dangerous and unsportsmanlike acts you committed during the fourth quarter of last night's game," the NFL's Vice President of Football Operations, Jon Ronyan, wrote in a letter to Smith-Schuster. "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.”

NFL’s letter to Iloka

“You violently struck a defenseless receiver in the head and neck area,” Runyan wrote to Iloka. “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.”

The aftermath

Under the Collective Bargaining Agreement, the suspensions may be appealed within three business days. Appeals are heard and decided by either Derrick Brooks or James Thrash, the officers jointly appointed and compensated by the NFL and NFLPA to decide appeals of on-field player discipline. Thrash heard Burfict’s appeal earlier this year when suspended five games and lowered it to three.

Both players have already expressed they’ll be filing appeals.

The Bengals play the Bears on Sunday while the Steelers play the Ravens. The Bengals are likely to be extremely short-handed on defense as Burfict is concussed, Dre Kirkpatrick is concussed, Adam Jones has a groin injury and two linebackers (Vinny Rey and Nick Vigil) were already injured and didn’t play against the Steelers.

Expect both appeals to be heard quickly, but don’t expect changes to either.


It looks like both Juju Smith-Schuster and George Iloka could have their appeals ruled upon by Wednesday morning.