T.J. Ward(notes), rookie safety for the Cleveland Browns, attempted to remove Jordan Shipley's(notes) head from his body on Sunday afternoon. Here's a look at the hit. Fair warning: It's not a pleasant sight.
Ward did pick up a personal foul for the fit, and as you can see, Carson Palmer(notes) got in his face about it. Still, after the game, Ward wouldn't apologize. He said he wasn't trying to hurt anyone, but said he'd do it again. Via Mary Kay Cabot at the Cleveland Plain-Dealer:
"I believe I led with my shoulder. I may have got a little helmet, but I didn't lead with my helmet. I didn't try to hit him under his helmet at all.''
Ward said given the circumstances "I would have done it again. I was upset with the ruling and the flag given that it was third down. But who knows? If I didn't hit him he might have caught a touchdown.''
You "may have got a little helmet"? Yeah, you might have. Or, you might have put your shoulder directly, squarely and viciously into his face and hit him like a damn wrecking ball. Let me check the video again.
Yeah, that's more than a little helmet. That's all helmet, in fact.
"T.J. is not a dirty guy," said Mangini. "He's a young guy. He's an aggressive guy, and he's an inexperienced guy, but he's not a dirty guy. He's a good person. He's a good kid. I'm not going to try to take anything off of the way that he plays because I think it's a real strength, but there are things that he'll learn to do even better within the framework of what we all have to play with."
I can buy that. It doesn't help Shipley any, but that the hit could be attributed to youthful enthusiasm and inexperience is believable. It's just his fourth NFL game. He can learn from this and grow.
Acknowledging that the hit was dirty, though, and that he shouldn't do it again might be a good first step.