Troy Vincent defends suspension

ByJohn Keim ESPN logo
Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Troy Vincent, the NFL's new executive vice president of football operations and a former defensive back, defended the two-game suspension he gave Washington Redskins safety Brandon Meriweather for a preseason hit on Baltimore Ravens wide receiver Torrey Smith.

In an interview with the NFL Network on Wednesday, Vincent said he and his staff did their homework on Meriweather, watching tackles from throughout his career.

"Brandon has been someone that has been in this particular [situation] multiple times," Vincent told the network. "We've just cited the four or five most recent. But in this particular case, Brandon hit a player in that area that we consider a very sensitive area, which is that head and neck area. So we went back from 2009 to current, and this is technique that we want to remove from the game."

The Redskins criticized Vincent and his Monday ruling, which penalized Meriweather for the sixth time in his NFL career.

Meriweather, who is appealing the suspension, and the Redskins contend that he has worked on lowering his target to avoid illegal hits. Vincent said there's been no change in his game.

"I'm going back to 2009 in Brandon's situation -- and just looking at the progression, what we've seen, there has been no altering in his play, his style of play," Vincent said.

Redskins safety Ryan Clark was among those defending Meriweather on Tuesday -- and criticizing Vincent, calling it a rash decision and made not looking at the play but at his teammate's past.

"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."

Vincent, the former cornerback who played one season with Washington at the end of his career, said his playing days give him an understanding of what it takes to play the position. He again said that Meriweather's hits need to change.

"And frankly, some of the acts are impermissible: the helmet-to-helmet blows, hitting in that head, that shoulder and neck area, are impermissible," Vincent said. "We want to remove that from the game, and we want to protect Brandon himself, and we want to protect his opponents from unnecessary risks."

For his part, Smith, the recipient of the bang-bang play in question, tweeted that he didn't think the hit warranted a suspension.

@plaxicoburress @Bmeriweather31 @NFL I don't think he should be suspended...but I don't make or enforce the rules...I just play

- Torrey Smith (@TorreySmithWR) August 26, 2014

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