NFL upholds suspension of Titans safety on appealOakland Raiders tight end Mychal Rivera lays on the ground after being hit by Tennessee Titans free safety Michael Griffin during the second quarter of an NFL football game in Oakland, Calif., Sunday, Nov. 24, 2013. Griffin was penalized on the play and Rivera stayed down for a few minutes before walking off under his own power. He was taken to the locker room and is being evaluated for a head injury. (AP Photo/Beck Diefenbach)
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) -- Titans safety Michael Griffin is appealing his one-game suspension without pay after being labeled by the NFL as a repeat offender of the league's rules prohibiting hits to the head and neck area of defenseless players.
The league announced the penalty Monday for Griffin's hit on Oakland tight end Mychal Rivera. The punishment came from Merton Hanks, the NFL's vice president of football operations.
Griffin wrote in a text to The Associated Press that he was just trying to do his job but hurt his team.
The suspension would cost Griffin $205,882.35 out of his $3.5 million base pay this season and keep him out of Sunday's game at Indianapolis.
Griffin cannot take part in any football activities until Dec. 2, and the Titans hold the AFC's sixth and final playoff berth at this point.
''All I can say is I apologize to the Titans fans, my teammates, and the organization,'' Griffin wrote. ''I also hope Rivera is doing well and I apologize to him and his family.''
The safety was flagged for unnecessary roughness in the second quarter of Sunday's 23-19 win over Oakland for a hit on Rivera.
It was Griffin's second violation this season and fourth since 2011. Griffin went in low but hit Rivera as the tight end went to the ground after attempting a catch.
Griffin said after the game that he apologized and even asked an official what more he could do on the play only to be told to aim low.
''I'm asking where do you aim low when somebody's going over the middle and he's catching the ball and he's falling at the same time? What do you do? My position and my job as a defensive player is to keep him from catching the ball and I don't know what you're supposed to do,'' Griffin said after the game.
Rivera, a rookie out of the University of Tennessee, had his helmet knocked off in the collision and did not return to the game.
''It was pretty brutal,'' Rivera said. ''The really brutal thing about it was my helmet falling off and my head hitting the ground. It wasn't really the hit. The hit was pretty hard to my head, but it was more my helmet falling off and hitting the ground.''
Rivera said he had no symptoms when he woke up Monday and has been cleared by doctors to play this week. He also said Griffin texted an apology after the game and said the hit was not malicious.
''I really respected that from him,'' Rivera said. ''I hit him back and told him I respected he was just doing his job and I said we'd see each other again in the future.''
Oakland coach Dennis Allen said the suspension was the league's decision.
''That's not for me to say whether it's just or not just,'' Allen said. ''It's unfortunate that our guy got hit and was knocked out of the game. I'll say that.''
Titans coach Mike Munchak said the hit looked a lot worse because Rivera was going low and his helmet came off. Munchak said the intent to harm wasn't there because Griffin went in with his shoulder.
''I think the helmet came off from him actually hitting the ground of his own doing,'' Munchak said. ''I think (Griffin) hit him with his shoulder, for sure.''
Griffin was fined $21,000 for hitting Jets receiver Stephen Hill high while blocking after an interception Sept. 29. The NFL also fined Griffin $21,000 last season for a helmet-to-helmet hit on Minnesota receiver Michael Jenkins last season, and the safety was fined $7,500 for a late hit in the head area with his helmet in a game at Carolina in November 2011.
AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org
AP Sports Writer Josh Dubow in Alameda, Calif., contributed to this report.