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Shutdown Corner

Saints DT Brodrick Bunkley kicks 49ers OL Alex Boone in the head, is ejected from game

Doug Farrar
Shutdown Corner

With all the folderol about whether Ndamukong Suh did or did not kick Matt Schaub in the man-parts during the Houston Texans' overtime win over the Detroit Lions on Thanksgiving day, the move that New Orleans Saints defensive tackle Brodrick Bunkley put on San Francisco 49ers offensive lineman Alex Boone on Sunday might slip under the radar.  But it really shouldn't.

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With 1:13 left in San Francisco's eventual 31-21 win, the 49ers were set up to kick a 33-yard field goal, but the attempt was blocked by Saints cornerback Malcolm Jenkins. After the play, Bunkley seemed to say something unpleasant to Boone, who appeared to attempt to punch Bunkley in an area not too dissimilar to the area Schaub was concerned about a few days ago. Bunkley responded by kicking Boone in the head, which was grounds for a sure-fire ejection.

Beyond the obvious notion that you don't want to go around kicking people in the head, Bunkley forgot the long-held NFL axiom: When a fight starts, it's always the guy fighting back who gets caught.

Saints interim head coach Joe Vitt, who had warned his players all week to keep from getting chippy in the rematch of the game that bounced the Saints from the 2011 playoffs, was less than happy with Bunkley's response.

"One of the keys to this game was keeping your poise," Vitt said after the game. "We block a field goal, we have a chance to give our team some field position. He's got to keep his emotions under control and do the right thing. He practices hard and wants to win. We have great confidence in the player, but he has to keep his poise."
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You know who else is going to be unhappy about this? Ray Anderson, the NFL's VP of Football Operations. Bunkley picked a bad time to go rogue. In the last week, Anderson tried and failed to suspend Baltimore Ravens safety Ed Reed for a game, due to Reed's alleged "repeat offender" status on the wrong side of the league's safety rules. When Anderson was overruled on that one, he moved on to Mr. Suh, and basically said that Suh would not get the benefit of the doubt when his supposed groin kick was reviewed on Monday.

There was no ambiguity to what Bunkley did. He kicked an opposing player in the head, and he got himself booted from the game as a result. Add in the Saints' contentious recent past with the NFL, and that puts Bunkley right in the wheelhouse of a guy who is desperately looking to make an example of somebody.

Our guess? Brodrick Bunkley is about to be that somebody. And he has nobody to blame but himself.

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