Reed appealed the suspension, which was handed down Monday, and his appeal was heard by Ted Cottrell, a former defensive coach jointly approved by the NFL and NFL Players Association to rule on player appeals. Merton Hanks, the NFL’s vice-president of football operations, initially suspended Reed for a helmet-to-helmet hit Sunday night on wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders that was deemed to be Reed’s third such hit in three seasons.
“I have determined that your actions were egregious and warrant significant discipline,” Cottrell wrote in a letter to Reed. “However, I do not believe that your actions were so egregious as to subject you to a one-game suspension without pay. Player safety is the league’s primary concern in the formation of playing rules and all players are expected to adhere to those rules or face disciplinary action. I hope in the future you will focus on ensuring that your play conforms to the rules.”
The suspension drew a chorus of criticism. For one thing, it wasn’t the vicious, intentional hit that the NFL has sought to eliminate and educate players about. Reed also isn’t considered a head-hunter. While the hit is Reed’s third, the first came in 2010 and the second in September. (He was fined and flagged for both.) Had his suspension been upheld, Reed would have been docked one game check, or $423,529.
“The league has an appeal process to review situations like this and Ed had his opportunity to answer questions about his play,” Ravens General Manager Ozzie Newsome said (via the Ravens). “I think [Coach] John [Harbaugh] and his coaches do an excellent job of teaching the right, safe and legal way to play football. And we believe Ed clearly tries to play within the rules on every down.”
Meanwhile, the NFL’s education and training of players goes on.