Players and coaches around the league were surprised when the NFL announced Monday that Ravens safety Ed Reed was suspended for one game for repeated hits on players in the head and neck area. A day later, there was another surprise -- the appeal process worked.
Reed's one-game suspension was reduced to a $50,000 fine after an expedited hearing Tuesday. Instead of not being able to play against the Chargers and losing a one-week paycheck ($423,529), Reed gets a hefty fine for his hit on Steelers wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders on Sunday night.
This was the right result. This isn't just my opinion, but the prevailing one around the league. Ryan Clark, a player on the same team as Sanders, didn't agree with the suspension because he didn't think Reed was intentionally trying to hurt Sanders. Jets coach Rex Ryan, who once coached Reed with the Ravens, said there was no way Reed would purposely try to hurt another player. The hashtag #FreeEdReed was trending locally on Twitter.
The Ravens felt so strongly against the suspension that they released a statement as soon as the one-game ban was lifted. “I think John [Harbaugh] and his coaches do an excellent job of teaching the right, safe and legal way to play football," general manager Ozzie Newsome said, "and we believe Ed clearly tries to play within the rules on every down.”
When the NFL announced Reed's suspension Monday, the league cited two other instances when Reed was fined for hits to the head. But, if the league wants to send a message, it has to do so with players who have a track record of injuring other players. There was no uproar around the league when James Harrison and Ndamukong Suh were suspended last season.
"None of those [previous hits] were with intent to injure or to harm in any way," Harbaugh said Monday. "When you look at the hits, that’s pretty obvious. We all know Ed. Ed respects the game. He respects his fellow players."
Now, the Ravens get to suit up Reed in what is always a tough cross-country trip to San Diego. Think it helps the Ravens to have Reed going against Philip Rivers, who currently leads the NFL in interceptions?