The NFL got this one right.
Executive vice president of football operations Jon Runyan suspended Panthers LB Thomas Davis for two games on Monday for his blind-side helmet-to-helmet block on Davante Adams that left Adams with his second concussion on a suspension-inducing hit this season. Davis will appeal within the required 72-hour window, per reports.
Davis “delivered a violent and unnecessary blindside block to [Adams’] head, Runyan wrote in the letter to Davis notifying him of punishment. “You have been previously fined for violations of safety-related rules. Your actions yesterday warranted an escalation of discipline, not only because they were flagrant, but also because of your status as a repeat offender.”
The NFL, one week after failing to fine, much less suspend, Seattle’s Michael Bennett for his victory formation crashing that instigated an ugly scene in Jacksonville, deserves credit for this one. Runyan focused on Davis’ brutal hit and repeat offender status, not his inspirational backstory as 2014 Walter Payton Man of the Year.
And the NFL had to get this one right, not just because it blew it with Bennett, but after a Week 15 embroiled in controversy over the insane grey area of its rulebook. Sure, Jesse James’ “non-catch” and Derek Carr’s “touchback” for fumbling out of the end zone on potential game-winning plays were ruled correctly by the letter of the NFL law. But everyone knows the laws are absurd and should hopefully finally be rectified this offseason.
Davis, like Michael Crabtree and Amari Cooper last month, could have his two-game suspension reduced to one on appeal. But don’t be surprised if this time it sticks with the initial punishment in light of the recent missteps and brutal nature of Davis’ block.
Davis was fined $48,620 in November for a high hit on Buccaneers WR Adam Humphries that drew an unnecessary roughness flag. In his 12-year career, Davis had previously been fined six times, totaling $122,184. They obviously didn't deter the 34-year-old two-time Pro Bowler from leveling Adams on Sunday with a block during teammate Colin Jones' interception return.
Pending his appeal, Davis will miss Week 16 vs. the Falcons and the regular-season finale vs. the Bucs before being eligible to return to the club Jan. 1 ahead of its potential postseason opener.
The Panthers (10-4) are currently the No. 5 seed in the NFC after beating the Packers Sunday for their sixth win in the past seven games. They’re unlikely to overtake the Saints, who swept Carolina this season, for the NFC South title. But losing Davis as they look to secure their wild-card spot could prove difficult, especially if Shaq Thompson (inactive the past two weeks with a foot injury) can’t soon return.