Before we get started let me make something very clear. I am not building a case that the hideous and unnecessary ejection of Richard Seymour during yesterday’s loss in Miami as some major turning point in the game. Oakland could have lost just as easily, played just as poorly and more than likely would have failed just as epically had Seymour sat out the entire contest. So losing the defensive captain for the balance of the second half meant next to nothing.
All that being said, there is no way to justify the decision to eject Seymour for his contact with Miami’s Richie Incognito.
Seymour, in the past, has more than crossed the line when it comes to cheap tactics and even dirty play. Just ask Ben Roethlisberger about that. But that cannot be a factor in an official’s decision to punish a player. This is the NFL and not a legal trial. In the legal world one’s past can be taken into account. Hence the three strikes law. However that cannot be a factor in sports. All you can work with is there here and now.
What Seymour did yesterday, after the play was over, happens after every snap in every NFL contest. Things got a little heated, as they always do in the trenches, and Seymour gave Incognito a not so polite yet far from malicious hand to the face.
Now if you want to argue Seymour committed a personal foul worthy of a free 15 yards for Miami then so be it. Questionable personal fouls are also a part of the game. Beyond that you’d have to show me a few missing teeth from the mouth of Incognito to justify an outright ejection.
Last night a Brandon Pettigrew of the Detroit Lions shoved an official and all he got was a personal foul. Please explain to me how that man was allowed to stick around for his team’s wretched loss yet Seymour was given an early shower. I understand that we’re talking about two different officiating crews but there must be some sort of effort made for consistency by the league.
To be sure NFL officials must be aware of the teams they officiate. This includes knowing the tendencies of the players on the field. However that does not give them license to profile players they deem to be dirty in hopes of catching them in the act. Seymour might have his misgivings but in the end he must be treated like any other player on a play by play basis.
Had Seymour been engaging in questionable acts throughout the game and this was the breaking point then there should have been a formal warning issued to either Seymour or Hue Jackson by the officiating crew.
Usually these issues are relegated to the rumblings of Raider Nation. Yet even Yahoo! Writer Chris Chase was openly pondering the same issue.
While we debate the validity of Seymour’s ejection Coach Jackson is taking a much different view on the ordeal. Like any good coach does, Jackson places the responsibility on Seymour as a team captain.
As I told him, he can’t get kicked out. He’s one of the rocks of this football team. You can never do something to get yourself kicked out of the game when you’re one of the leaders of this football team.
Luckily for the league Seymour’s ejection meant nothing in the outcome of the game. However if something like this happens on a bigger stage, say in a nationally televised playoff game that would hopefully be a closer contest, then Roger Goodell will have an issue on his hands he won’t want to deal with.