The NFL suspended Oakland Raiders running back Marshawn Lynch for one game for the incident during Thursday night’s game in which he was ejected after running on the field from the sideline and making contact with one of the officials during a brief scuffle between players from the Raiders and Kansas City Chiefs.
The league cited unsportsmanlike conduct as the reason for the suspension and said that Lynch also violated a rule prohibiting unnecessary contact with a game official.
Lynch plans to appeal the suspension, a person familiar with the case confirmed. A hearing probably will be conducted early next week before James Thrash or Derrick Brooks, the former NFL players who serve as the sport’s appeals officers for on-field discipline. They are jointly appointed and paid by the league and the NFL Players Association.
The suspension was imposed by Jon Runyan, the NFL’s vice president of football operations.
“You made deliberate physical contact with one of our game officials as he was diffusing an active confrontation between players,” Runyan wrote to Lynch, according to the league’s announcement of the suspension.
“You were disqualified for your inappropriate and unsportsmanlike actions. Your conduct included pushing the game official and grabbing his jersey…. You were not directly involved in the active confrontation that the game official was attempting to diffuse, nor were you a participant in the play that initiated the confrontation. You were the only player from either team who ran from the sideline to midfield to insert himself into a situation in which he was not directly involved.”
Lynch, who was not in the game at the time and was standing on the Raiders’ sideline, ran on the field after a play on which Chiefs cornerback Marcus Peters was penalized for a hit on Oakland’s quarterback, Derek Carr. Lynch made contact with an official and was ejected.
Lynch and Peters have a close friendship, and Raiders offensive tackle Donald Penn told reporters after the game that Lynch was attempting to protect Peters. Both are from Oakland and Peters was at the University of Washington while Lynch played in Seattle for the Seahawks.
If the suspension stands, Lynch would miss the Raiders’ game Oct. 29 at Buffalo. The suspension is without pay and would cost Lynch just under $79,412, or one-seventeenth of his 2017 salary of $1.35 million.
Thrash and Brooks already have reduced two suspensions this season, both involving illegal hits. Thrash reduced the league’s five-game suspension of Cincinnati Bengals linebacker Vontaze Burfict, imposed following an illegal hit during the preseason, to three games. Brooks reduced a two-game suspension of Chicago Bears linebacker Danny Trevathan for an illegal hit on Green Bay Packers wide receiver Davante Adams to one game.
Lynch reportedly watched the game from the stands following his ejection. That will be up to the Raiders to address if they choose. In a conference call with reporters Friday morning, NFL spokesman Joe Lockhart called that a club matter.
Lockhart said then that either a suspension or a fine was in play as the league reviewed the incident. The NFL’s schedule of fines calls for a fine of $30,387 for a player making physical contact with a game official. The fine for unnecessarily entering a fight area with active involvement is $6,076; it’s $3,037 for unnecessarily entering a fight area without active involvement.
The Raiders raised their record to 3-4 by beating the Chiefs, 31-30, Thursday night with a touchdown with no time remaining—after the game was extended twice by defensive penalties by Kansas City—and the ensuing extra point.
Lynch came out of retirement to play this season for his hometown team. The results have been mixed at best. Lynch has run for 266 yards in the Raiders’ seven games and is averaging 3.7 yards per carry, a half-yard below his career average of 4.2 yards per rushing attempt.
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