DeAngelo Hall criticizes NFL for its investigation, handling of appeal of fine for ref incident

December 20, 2012

DeAngelo Hall during the incident that led to his ejection in Pittsburgh (John McDonnell/The Washington Post)

Redskins cornerback DeAngelo Hall says he was falsely accused of profanely threatening to kill an official during an on-field confrontation that resulted in his ejection during the team’s Oct. 28 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers at Heinz Field.

Hall said he was told during the NFL’s investigation of the incident, which resulted in a $30,000 fine, that the alleged threat against head linesman Dana McKenzie led to his ejection. The threat has not been previously revealed.

“Yeah, he said that’s what threw the flag for the ejection,” Hall said. “And so, you know, that didn’t happen. That should have never happened, and we wouldn’t be having this conversation. There’s just a lot of things that are unresolved with that case that have to be resolved.”

In a wide-ranging interview this week, Hall also was highly critical of other aspects of the way the NFL handled the investigation and appeal process. He said the interview conducted with him during the league’s investigation “felt like an interrogation” and that the process under which the league set his punishment and heard his appeal is unfair.

“Any time you’ve got one person that’s the judge, jury and executioner — he makes the fine, then he hears the appeal, then he decides the amount — it’s just tough. It’s just tough,” Hall said. In that regard, he added, “the CBA [collective bargaining agreement between the league and players’ union] we agreed on probably wasn’t in the best interests of the players, from my viewpoint.”

Some of the New Orleans Saints players suspended for their alleged involvement in a scheme that paid them to injure opponents have lodged similar complaints about the NFL appeals process. Former commissioner Paul Tagliabue recently vacated all the suspensions.

An NFL spokesman said recently the league would have no further comment about the incident. The league has not said whether McKenzie was, or will be, punished. Hall said he has not been told whether his fine will be reduced on appeal or whether McKenzie faces disciplinary action. The league declined to comment again Thursday.

McKenzie was not available to comment. The NFL Referees Association has not responded to recent requests for comment about the incident.

Hall was ejected following a verbal confrontation with McKenzie at the end of a play. Hall removed his helmet and appeared to use profanity. He has said he believes that McKenzie was equally to blame for the incident. The NFL investigated the incident and fined Hall but didn’t suspend him, though the league warned him that future misconduct could lead to a suspension. Hall appealed the fine.

Hall said he now believes he should have hired an outside attorney to mount a legal challenge to the accusations against him, and still may if he determines it’s not too late.

“I’ll just consult with my agent and just really try to figure out what I can do,” he said. “I don’t know if I’ve waived my right because I’ve [participated in] an appeal already. But like I told him, if I had to do it all over again or in the future, I will seek outside counsel like the Adderall guys in Seattle or the whole Saints bounty case…. I’m not saying they’re not doing their jobs, the PA [Players Association] lawyers. But I want somebody that’s going to go above and beyond. Maybe they hear so many cases, they can’t spend the kind of time I want or need. So I’ll pay somebody that can.”

He added: “The situation in Pittsburgh, it was just a bad situation. I’m still going through the proper channels to try to figure out what we can do as far as just rectifying that. Because we went through the whole process with the NFL and at first they investigated it. They sent investigators out and interviewed me, which felt like an interrogation, interviewed other players, interviewed the referees. Never discussed with me the findings of what transpired, then came out and fined me $30,000 about the incident, then heard my appeal.

“The guy who heard my appeal, I’m telling him kind of what went down through the process,” Hall said. “He never heard anything about that. It was just, I felt like, handled the wrong way. I felt like–obviously it wasn’t the same as Bountygate–but I felt like I should have took a step back and got independent counsel, figured the right, I guess, path to go on. That’s kind of what we’re trying to do now, I mean, because what happened shouldn’t have happened. He shouldn’t have came at me like he did. I shouldn’t have came back at him. But it happened. But after that, I was told that I said I was going to ‘[profanity] kill him,’ which didn’t happen.”

Hall said NFL Players Association representatives helped during his interview.

“Like I said, I sat there with these guys 40, 45 minutes,” Hall said. “It didn’t feel like an interview. It felt like an interrogation. I had the PA lawyers in there and they’re out there, they’re being super defensive about it. They were good. And it’s not the PA’s fault.”

Hall also was fined $35,750 for a horse-collar tackle and a late hit in the Thanksgiving Day game against Dallas. Prior to these two fines, he said, “I hadn’t gotten fined in about four years.”

He said he still hasn’t heard back about the outcome of the appeal.

“It used to be you got on the phone,” he said. “The guy heard your appeal: ‘All right, I’ll take the $15,000 down to $7,500. All right, D-Hall.’ You heard it right there. But you’ve got guys now, ‘Yeah, all right, okay, that’s all you have to say? All right. We’ll get back to you.’ And I’m like, ‘Well, what do you think?’ I still don’t know what the hell’s going on. But it’s a process, I guess.”

 

Mark Maske covers the NFL for The Washington Post.
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Mark Maske · December 20, 2012