It was another vicious hit, and once again the NFL will be looking into it, and this time, it could cost Falcons cornerback Dunta Robinson.
The league is going to examine the hit that Robinson put on Philadelphia wide receiver Jeremy Maclin that drew a 15-yard penalty in Sunday night’s game.
Robinson was fined $50,000 last year for a similar hit on the Eagles’ DeSean Jackson that left both players with concussions. The fine later was reduced to $25,000, but Robinson falls into the category of repeat offender.
The league has said flagrant hits by such players could lead to a suspension. The NFL has not yet suspended anyone for such hits.
Normally, any league discipline is handed down in midweek. But the NFL could speed the process given the high profile of Robinson’s hit — during a prime-time national TV game — and the cornerback’s recent history.
Robinson drew a 15-yard penalty for unnecessary roughness with 6:12 remaining in the third quarter after leading with his helmet and crashing into Maclin. Maclin was slow to leave the field but returned to the game.
Replays clearly showed Robinson leading with his helmet, something the league has been adamant about eliminating. The NFL this year also banned launches into a defenseless opponent.
Falcons coach Mike Smith said Monday he had not heard from the NFL about the hit. Smith said after the game he thought it was a legal hit and “that’s the way we teach it.”
“My opinion didn’t change,” he said.
Last October, the NFL sent head coaches memos listing those players on their teams who were called for two or more unnecessary roughness penalties since 2008. Ray Anderson, NFL executive vice president of football operations, told The Associated Press this summer the league uses the last two seasons as criteria to determine repeat offenders.
“Player safety is a priority and we will not relent on it,” Anderson said in August. “Let me make it very clear, particularly in regard to repeat offenders, that egregious acts will be subject to suspension. We will not feel the need to hesitate in this regard.”
Anderson, assistant Merton Hanks, the former 49ers safety, and their staff go over every play following each weekend. Director of officiating Carl Johnson and his staff also are consulted. When it’s determined a fine or suspension is necessary, Anderson says the player and team are notified as quickly as possible.
The player can appeal to former NFL coaches Art Shell and Ted Cottrell, who are paid by the league and the NFL Players Association to handle those cases. Their appeal must be heard by the second Tuesday following notification of the discipline.
Commissioner Roger Goodell can become involved in the process at any time.