Appeals Officer James Thrash, jointly appointed by the NFL and the NFLPA, has confirmed the suspension of a game by Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster. The appeal was heard on Tuesday afternoon.
Smith-Schuster was suspended for blocking the fourth quarter of Cincinnati Bengals defender Vontaze Burfict, who was in a helpless position, according to the NFL ruling. Smith-Schuster stopped over Burfict as he lay motionless.
Cincinnati Bengals safety George Iloka also received a one-game suspension for a hit on Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown in the end zone in the fourth quarter when Brown was deemed a helpless receiver. Brown clung to the ball to score the eventual touchdown.
Iloka's appeal was heard on Tuesday night, but a decision is not expected until Wednesday, a source tells Adam Schefter of ESPN.
Smith-Schuster will miss the Steelers' play at home against Baltimore on Sunday night.
With 7:10 left in Pittsburgh's eventual 23-20 win over the Bengals, Smith-Schuster leveled Burfict as the linebacker chased Steelers running back Leon Bell with a 12-yard gain. .
"The contact he made with his opponent placed the opposing player at risk of serious injury and could have been prevented," NFL football operations vice president Jon Runyan said in issuing the suspension. "His behavior after the blow fell well below the high level of sportsmanship expected of an NFL player."
Runyan shared similar feelings when issuing Iloka's suspension.
"The Competition Committee has clearly stated its goal of eliminating flagrant successes that have no place in our game" and has encouraged the League office to suspend offenders for atrocious violations such as the one he committed last night, "Runyan said in his ruling.
No player was ejected from the game.
The actions of Burfict after the beaten Pittsburgh coach, Mike Tomlin.
"I will support my statement last night that his actions after the coup are more disturbing than the actual coup," Tomlin said Tuesday. "Those successes are teaching moments, he's a better athlete than he showed after the blockade, he has to work hard to make people understand what kind of man he is."
Smith-Schuster told reporters he "spoiled" the teasing, because it cost his team 15 yards.
"I was playing the whistle," said Smith-Schuster. "I did not want to stand on top of him, I was trying to get a big block for Leon Bell so he could get in. The unsportsmanlike behavior is not me, I should not have done it, I hope he's doing well and I hope he improves."
He also apologized in a post-game tweet.
I do not intend to hurt anyone when I play football. I did not want to hurt Vontez Burfict, I just wanted to throw a block for my teammate. I apologize for supporting him and that is not me. Praying gets better.
– JuJu Smith-Schuster (@TeamJuJu) December 5, 2017
After the game, Brown shouted "karma" repeatedly.
Asked if that comment was related to Burfict, Brown said: "I'm not talking about anyone, karma is karma, karma is in life, you do things wrong, you get the wrong things"