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Update: Dante Wesley suspended for one game by NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell.

Carolina Panthers special teams player Dante Wesley was at the center of controversy on Sunday after launching himself into Tampa Bay's Clifton Smith, leaving the Pro Bowl punt returner with a concussion.

An official threw a penalty flag immediately after Wesley made contact with Smith, who walked off the field under his own power. Wesley was ejected for the hit, and the incident triggered a confrontation among players from both teams near the middle of the field before officials could restore order.

What made the play completely unacceptable and indefensible was that Smith appeared to have called for a fair catch, and yet Wesley still found it necessary to leave his feet and lead with his shoulder into Smith's head and neck.

"I felt like really the refs could have controlled that situation," Wesley told reporters after the Panthers' 28-21 win. "I was trying to see what the ref called on that, and then their whole team just come and surround me. I just wondered if the refs were going to call them for something."

Smith was physically unable to speak to reporters after the game, and teammates were justifiably upset at what some called a "dirty play."

The last thing the NFL wants is a player severely injured or, God forbid, paralyzed because of an irresponsible hit like Wesley's. Suspending and significantly fining him would send a strong message to other players in the league that this type of excessive and unsportsmanlike behavior won't be tolerated.

By Gene Wang  |  October 19, 2009; 8:38 AM ET  | Category:  Refs Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
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Comments

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I'm not sure I have an opinion on what further punishment should be, but just wanted to agree with the Fox commentators that the refs did a good job in keeping things from getting out of hand. Kudos to the coaching staffs for coming out onto the field also!

Posted by: jrshark | October 19, 2009 1:04 PM

I can understand that this is violent game and that hitting is part of its appeal. However there comes a point when it is detrimental to the game. A hit like Wesley's only has one purpose, to inflict damage, though not nessecarily injury, to another player. In the grand scheme, it matters not whether Smith called for the fair catch or not. Wesley launched himself as a weapon. THe NFL must decides if it want to be a league of thugs or a league of sportsman

Posted by: akmzrazor | October 19, 2009 2:41 PM

I think the NFL should require QB'S like cry baby Brady to wear pink tutus' or paint a vagina on their pants so that real football players could more readily identify them & avoid a penalty like the one called on our redskin 100M dollar man.

Posted by: mikee1940 | October 20, 2009 11:23 AM

I think the NFL should require QB'S like cry baby Brady to wear pink tutus' or paint a vagina on their pants so that real football players could more readily identify them & avoid a penalty like the one called on our redskin 100M dollar man.

Posted by: mikee1940 | October 20, 2009 11:27 AM

In a case such as this, the offending player should be suspended for as many games as the player he is injured is unable to return to play.

Posted by: jecham3981 | October 22, 2009 10:06 AM

The comments to this entry are closed.

 
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