Brandon Meriweather to appeal ban

ByJohn Keim ESPN logo
Tuesday, August 26, 2014

ASHBURN, Va. -- Washington Redskins safety Brandon Meriweather will appeal his two-game suspension for another illegal hit, amid strong support from teammates and coaches -- and fellow safety Ryan Clark calling out Troy Vincent.

The NFL suspended Meriweather on Monday for two games based on what it deemed a helmet-to-helmet hit against Baltimore Ravens receiver Torrey Smith on Saturday. It's the second time the NFL suspended Meriweather and the sixth time it has taken action against one of his hits in his eight-year career.

Last season, the league suspended him for two games, but after an appeal it was reduced to one game.

Meriweather declined comment Tuesday, but both coach Jay Gruden and Clark said he would appeal.

"It was an unfortunate incident," Gruden said. "He tried to lower his target. It was a legitimate football play, but the NFL didn't see it that way."

Clark is familiar with this process. Though he has never been suspended, he has been fined in the past for illegal hits. He said the fact that a former player, Vincent, NFL executive vice president of football operations, handed out the suspension didn't ease any complaints about the matter.

"It's tough," Clark said. "You get a guy who played ball, even though I think Troy Vincent played it softly, he didn't play as aggressive and violent as Brandon. Maybe that's part of it, not having that mindset. It's just sad."

Clark said he has been through the appeal process, sat in on competition meetings and still doesn't fully grasp the rulings.

"To be honest, after talking to them, I'm no more clear than they are," Clark said. "They watch the film, they talk to each other, they say, 'Hey, it looks like a bad hit,' and they levy out fines.

"... Brandon was trying to do the right thing. He didn't lead with the crown of his head, he didn't spear a guy. To be suspended two games is sad."

Clark said Meriweather told him he does not want to hit players too low and injure their knees. It's what Meriweather said last year as well after his suspension. Clark said he hit New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski low last year.

"It makes you say: Why play preseason games?" Clark said. "We don't get paid a lot to play them. Guys will have to start looking into a way to protect themselves and to protect their team. It's a very fast decision. It's a harsh decision. It's rash. It's a decision [Vincent] made not looking at the play, just thinking to himself, 'This is the sixth time this guy's been an offender. This is what you should do.'"

Others echoed that sentiment.

"It's easy to sit in air conditioning and slow something down and say you could have went lower than this," linebacker Perry Riley said. "When you're going full speed, we get up on each other so fast. It's very rare when you can slow down. Most of the time you're trying to get to him before the ball gets to him. It's bang-bang."

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