October 24, 2010
All week, the NFL focused on the danger of players hitting players. After a frightening incident in New Orleans, the league may be forced to consider the danger of players hitting officials.
During punt-return coverage in his team's loss to the Cleveland Browns, New Orleans Saints special teamer Courtney Roby(notes) plowed into a member of the chain gang while in a full sprint. Al Nastaci, who was standing a few feet from the field while holding a first-down marker, fell hard to the ground after Roby shoved him with both hands. The official appeared to hit his head in the process.
He was immediately attended to by medical personnel and was wheeled out of the Superdome on a stretcher after a 15-minute delay. Adam Schefter of ESPN reports that Nastaci was diagnosed with a mild concussion and will remain hospitalized overnight. He is expected to be fine.
Roby was assessed a 15-yard unsportsmanlike conduct penalty for running out of bounds. It wouldn't be surprising if he and his NFL peers received a memo this week on the proper places to run during kick returns.
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