The NFL has a new tool to suspend Chicago Bears linebacker Danny Trevathan for the brutal hit he put on Green Bay Packers wide receiver Davante Adams on Thursday night. If it isn't used in this instance, then it's fair to wonder when it ever will be used.
During the offseason, the NFL competition committee announced that certain illegal hits, previously punishable by a 15-yard penalty, would be subject to immediate ejection and/or suspension on first offense. At the time, NFL executive vice president Troy Vincent said the league wants to eliminate hits that he termed "catastrophic" by employing the maximum level of deterrence.
It's hard to find a better word to describe what Trevathan did in the third quarter Thursday night. Multiple Bears defenders had Adams wrapped up inside the red zone when Trevathan lowered his head and hit the front of Adams' face hard enough to send his mouthpiece flying. It was both an illegal hit and an exceptionally dirty one, considering Adams was no longer making forward progress.
Packers players immediately called for medical assistance as Adams lay motionless on the field. (The team later reported that Adams was conscious and had movement in all extremities en route to a hospital.)
Referee John Hussey issued a 15-yard penalty for what he called a "hit to the head." More specifically, he probably meant an illegal hit with the crown of the helmet. Regardless, Hussey should receive strong NFL scrutiny for his failure to eject Trevathan on the spot.
The NFL has no rule mandating an ejection in those circumstances, but it gives referees the discretion to do so when a "flagrant" foul occurs. In Week 1, for example, referee John Parry ejected Seattle Seahawks cornerback Jeremy Lane because he thought Lane had thrown a punch. In the NFL rule book, "flagrant" is defined as "extremely objectionable, conspicuous, unnecessary, avoidable or gratuitous."
Thursday's dark episode is precisely what the NFL was trying to address with its offseason initiative. I would be stunned if Trevathan is eligible to play in the Bears' next game, scheduled for Oct. 9 against the Minnesota Vikings.