One little piece of ear goes a long way, it turns out.
At least it does if you're Denver Broncos linebacker Joe Mays, who was suspended for one game and fined $50,000 dollars for the following hit on Houston Texans quarterback Matt Schaub.
It's not surprising that Mays' vicious hit tore off a chunk of Schaub's ear. What is surprising is that Schaub didn't get a concussion on the play, or that his head is still attached to his neck.
This is the sort of hit that absolutely does not belong in the game, and Mays deserves to be fined every penny. It's one thing when you see helmet-to-helmet collisions from defenders on passing plays—while they should be avoided, sometimes violent collisions are simply not preventable given the speed of the NFL—Mays' hit has no place in the game.
The fact that Mays is appealing the suspension, according to ESPN's Adam Schefter, is a joke in my opinion. He can argue he didn't mean to hurt Schaub all he wants, and truthfully, I believe him. Enough folks have vouched for him as a person to suggest his intent wasn't as malicious as it looked.
Fine, maybe he didn't mean to cause injury. He still deserves his punishment for his sheer negligence on the hit.
Here was his explanation for what happened on the play (via Bill Williamson of ESPN):
“What I was thinking is, I’m just reading my progression, my gap blocks, so I’m thinking, try to get to the quarterback as fast as I could, try to get him down before he gets the ball off,” Mays said in the radio interview. “I see him back there, I’m coming, I’m coming and I see him cock back to release the ball, but I’m still going to try to hit him so I can affect the release a little bit. So, he threw the ball, and he kind of ducked his head because he saw me coming. When he ducked his head, that’s when I came in and hit him. It looked worse than what … I mean, it didn’t look good. I’ll just put it that way. My intention was to go in there and get a hit on him, not hit him in the helmet. Unfortunately, that’s what happened.”
It seems believable enough.
Still, you simply can't launch into players like that. He could have easily driven his shoulder through Schaub and not been so much as penalized (he admitted he probably could have been lower on the play).
Instead, he decided to lead with his helmet and deliver a hammer blow to the side of Schaub's head. Intent or not, his form and aiming point should have been lower.
End of story.
So yes, I think Mays deserves his suspension and hefty fine. I highly doubt he'll have his punishment lessened through the appeals process. Hits as dangerous as his—intentional or not—cannot be allowed in the NFL, period.
How many ears do you really want to read about, after all?
Hit me up on Twitter—my tweets wouldn't allow fake Golden Tate touchdowns to stand.