If being a hypocrite were a disciplinary offense in the NFL rulebook, Michael Bennett would be facing at least a game suspension right now.
The NFL is still evaluating the chaos that ensued at the end of Sunday’s Seahawks-Jaguars game, according to league spokesman Brian McCarthy, meaning Bennett and Seahawks teammate Quinton Jefferson could still be disciplined.
A case can be made that because Jefferson was provoked by fans throwing bottles and that he didn’t actually go into the stands after them, he should get off. Bennett has no such case.
Here’s the play in question:
Here's the video of Bennett diving into the centers legs. pic.twitter.com/Hmx0gSew9S
— The 617 Report (@617Report) December 11, 2017
Even if you buy Seattle head coach Pete Carroll’s excuse that Bennett was “trying” to swipe at the ball in a desperate attempt to give the Seahawks one more chance – and it looks like that could be what Bennett did – what was Bennett “trying” to do on the second roll when he falls into the knees of Brandon Linder, who despite being rolled up on seconds earlier is innocently walking away?
“I don’t have to explain myself,” Bennett reportedly said after the game.
In that case, you’re a hypocrite. I don’t have to explain why, but I will.
Back in 2012, Bennett played in Tampa Bay under then head coach Greg Schiano, who on two different occasions infamously ordered his defense to fire off on the opponent in victory formation. (Same scenario as Sunday.) Here’s one of those plays:
It was controversial at the time, with some players and coaches around the league calling it dirty, while others defended the directive under the “play to the final whistle” mantra. Despite being his own team, Michael Bennett was one of those who was critical.
“People just really hate it when you have to dive at people’s legs,” Bennett told NFL.com’s Michael Silver as Schiano’s time in Tampa wound down. “At the end of the day, we’ve got to keep going and move onto the next game and try to make a living. Some of these guys [on other teams] are our friends.”
Go back and watch that video again and focus on the middle of the line, where you’ll see No. 71 in white firing off harder than anyone. That’s Michael Bennett. earlier that same season, same thing – New York Giants in victory formation, Michael Bennett firing off the line, into the knees of the Giants offensive line, with more gusto than anyone else on the defense.
And there he was again Sunday, rolling into the knees of Linder not once but twice, the second a clear attempt to do nothing else but take the knees out from under an upright opponent.
Maybe Bennett didn’t intend to injure Linder. Maybe he did because Linder isn’t one of his friends. Shouldn’t matter, because the NFL doesn’t rule on what a player was “trying” to do. If it did, then JuJu Smith-Schuster would not have been suspended for trying to make a block on Vontez Burfict, nor initially would have George Iloka, who was trying to prevent Antonio Brown from catching a touchdown.
Bottom line is Bennett took Linder down in a way he knows is prone to causing injury. For that, he should be disciplined by the NFL, which will complete its review Friday.
Whether Michael Bennett cares to explain himself, does it matter? It has before for him, but suddenly it doesn’t now.
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