Damontae Kazee Pittsburgh Steelers safety Damontae Kazee faces a suspension for the last three regular-season games and potential postseason appearances following a hit on Colts receiver Michael Pittman Jr.
The NFL’s decision, delivered by VP of Operations John Runyan on Monday, comes after Kazee’s ejection during the Steelers’ loss to the Indianapolis Colts. The league cited a rule violation prohibiting forcible hits to a defenseless player’s head or neck area.
Flagrant Violation: Ejection and Season Suspension: Damontae Kazee
During the game, Kazee’s forceful hit on Pittman resulted in a disqualification with 8:42 left in the second quarter. The league’s letter emphasized the flagrant nature of the hit and the potential for avoidance.
Runyan’s letter noted that the suspension wasn’t solely due to this incident but was influenced by Kazee’s previous player-safety violations. The league deems more substantial penalties appropriate for repeated transgressions posing a significant risk of injury.
Voices of Dissent: Critics Questioning the Punishment: Damontae Kazee
Colts assistant defensive backs coach Mike Mitchell expressed uncertainty in coaching safeties under current NFL rules, while Tom Brady and others criticized the punishment. Brady pointed to the quarterback’s throw as a contributing factor.
Denver Broncos safety Kareem Jackson faced similar suspensions this season for comparable hits. Kazee has the option to appeal through the collective bargaining agreement, with any appeal heard by Derrick Brooks or James Thrash.
Steelers’ Playoff Prospects Diminished: Mason Rudolph Takes the Helm
Without Kazee, the Steelers conclude the regular season with games against the Cincinnati Bengals, Seattle Seahawks, and Baltimore Ravens. Head coach Mike Tomlin announced Mason Rudolph as the starting quarterback for the remaining games, impacting the team’s playoff aspirations.