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What The NFL Rulebook Says About The Hit By Terence Garvin On Kevin Huber


There is still a lot of discussion about whether or not the hit made by Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker Terence Garvin on Cincinnati Bengals punter Kevin Huber during the first quarter punt return for a touchdown by wide receiver Antonio Brown was legal or not.

As I stated early this morning, I believe that Garvin should have been penalized on the play for the hit and I expect him to be fined this week as well. I have reprinted the rule on defenseless players from the NFL rule book below and have bolded the sections that apply to this hit. I also have included the animated gif of the hit along with the exact frame that Garvin initially makes contact with Huber.

This is as cut and dry as it gets.

Article 7: Players in a Defenseless Posture. It is a foul if a player initiates unnecessary contact against a player who is in a defenseless posture.

(a) Players in a defenseless posture are:

(1) A player in the act of or just after throwing a pass;

(2) A receiver attempting to catch a pass; or who has completed a catch and has not had time to protect himself or has not clearly become a runner. If the receiver/runner is capable of avoiding or warding off the impending contact of an opponent, he is no longer a defenseless player;

(3) A runner already in the grasp of a tackler and whose forward progress has been stopped;

(4) A kickoff or punt returner attempting to field a kick in the air;

(5) A player on the ground;

(6) A kicker/punter during the kick or during the return (Also see Article 6(g) for additional restrictions against a kicker/punter);

(7) A quarterback at any time after a change of possession (Also see Article 8(f) for additional restrictions against a quarterback after a change of possession);

(8) A player who receives a ―blindside‖ block when the offensive blocker is moving toward or parallel to his own end line and approaches the opponent from behind or from the side, and

(9) A player who is protected from an illegal crackback block (see Article 2);

(10) The offensive player who attempts a snap during a Field Goal attempt or a Try Kick.

(b) Prohibited contact against a player who is in a defenseless posture is:

(1) Forcibly hitting the defenseless player’s head or neck area with the helmet, facemask, forearm, or shoulder, even if the initial contact of the defender’s helmet or facemask is lower than the passer’s neck, and regardless of whether the defensive player also uses his arms to tackle the defenseless player by encircling or grasping him; or

(2) Lowering the head and making forcible contact with the top/crown or forehead/‖hairline‖ parts of the helmet against any part of the defenseless player’s body; or

(3) Illegally launching into a defenseless opponent. It is an illegal launch if a player (i) leaves both feet prior to contact to spring forward and upward into his opponent, and (ii) uses any part of his helmet (including the top/crown and forehead/‖hairline‖ parts) to initiate forcible contact against any part of his opponent’s body. Note: This does not apply to contact against a runner, unless the runner is still considered to be a defenseless player, as defined in Article 7 above.

Note1: The provisions of (2) do not prohibit incidental contact by the mask or helmet in the course of a conventional tackle or block on an opponent.

Note 2: A player who initiates contact against a defenseless opponent is responsible for avoiding an illegal act. This includes illegal contact that may occur during the process of attempting to dislodge the ball from an opponent. A standard of strict liability applies for any contact against a defenseless opponent, even if the opponent is an airborne player who is returning to the ground or whose body position is otherwise in motion, and irrespective of any acts by the defenseless opponent, such as ducking his head or curling up his body in anticipation of contact.

Penalty: For unnecessary roughness: Loss of 15 yards and an automatic first down. The player may be disqualified if the action is judged by the official(s) to be flagrant.

Steelers Terence Garvin Bengals Kevin Huber Hit Animated Gif

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About Dave Bryan

I am, I'm me. 40 something, retired and a life long Steelers fan.
  • RW

    What does article 6(g) say? The punter was trying to make the tackle. It was necessary to block him. I understand if the punter truly is defenseless and is in no way in position to make a tackle, but that just isn’t the case here.

  • DrakePirate

    Dave, there is nothing cut and dry when it comes to enforcing penalties in the NFL … (uncatchable pass was my favourite in the past … almost never enforced) but I think we can all agree that by the letter of the rule it was an illegal hit … who would have known that a punter is defenseless throughout the entire play … I could have sworn that I have seen punters blown up in the past without penalties and fines … like David said in the podcast, where exactly is the red line when it comes to punters … i guess there is a lot of gray area … while i agree it was an illegal hit and will probably be fined … still dont think it was a bad hit nor do i think he led with his helmet nor do I think he should be fined … since when does every penalty become a fine ???

  • bonairsfavoriteson

    YOUR ALL WET BRYAN.

  • TheDman113

    He led with his ankles, right?

  • Ahmad

    It’s illegal now but I still say that was a good hit. Hines Ward would have been proud.

  • TheDman113

    Sure he would have, he was dirty too. So is your coach. Seems pretty pervasive throughout the organization.

  • tiredofallthis

    You’re a real genius, aren’t you? So there’s an NFL rule that says a punter is defenseless while he is in the process of trying to tackle the returner? Seems idiotic to me, but there are a lot of idiotic rules in the NFL these days.

  • gene mann

    I don’t think the hit was illegal hit at all but sure the nfl will fine him
    Hines hit on Ray Maguluga was also a think of beauty

  • tiredofallthis

    Actually, the hit you’re thinking of was on Keith Rivers. And it was a thing of beauty.

  • mem359

    I mentioned in the other thread, I don’t think that is the exact frame when contact is made. The next frame (26 of 49) shows Garvin’s shoulder making contact, and the frame after (27) is when Huber’s head & body start to react to the impact.

    I really hope there is another camera angle for the hit. While these pictures look like Huber being speared in the chin, from this angle they could be consistent with Garvin burying his head into Huber’s right shoulder. (In that situation, Huber’s head snap is whiplash from the hit to his upper body.) A slightly different angle would resolve that easily.

    I noticed two other interesting things in the GIF:
    – Frames 28-32: Face mask by Bengal 40 on ABrown (although quick and unintentional).
    – Frames 36-42: Bengals number 46 pushes his own teammate (57) into the ground

  • Dan

    Agree. Seems to me he was just blocking a would be tackler…but the reality is it was too brutal of a hit to go unpunished by the suits on Park Avenue. It ain’t worth much but if he’s on the roster cut bubble next August, he’ll get my vote to stay. If we can’t enjoy the playoffs this year we should at least be able to enjoy some bloody bungals.

  • Virdin Barzey

    Well Dave, I generally agree with you but not on this one even if it was a Steeler that got hit like that. If they had called a penalty, I would have no problem. Why? The officiating has become a mess and I’ve seen them call folks for less.

    They did not call it and I have no problem with that either since it was close. I can take the rule book out and probably call a penalty on every play but if its close which I think this clearly is, its a 50/50 call to me.

    I’m amazed at the amount of players that get blown up during a play. Its like they aren’t even aware of their surroundings.

  • HopalongCassidy

    Bengal troll alert. Pull out your handkerchiefs to wipe his tears.

  • Talkin-Back

    Article writer Dave Bryan only tells what he wants you to hear. The fact is, the section of the rule book he doesn’t want to show in article 6 states that when a kicker/ punter are engaging in a tackle, they are no longer considered defenseless. Nice try Dave!!!

  • Thomas Rancy

    would YOU trade landry jones for Justin Tucker? PANDAMONIUM!! rofl

  • Beaver Falls Hosiery

    The NFL could solve this problem by using a kicking machine for kick offs and punts. Then you don’t have to worry about having a defenseless player on the field.

  • WilliamSekinger

    The writer has no reason to deceive anyone. Here is the article you are referencing:

    (h) a kicker/punter, who is standing still or fading backward after the ball has been kicked, is out of the play and must not be unnecessarily contacted by the receiving team through the end of the down or until he assumes a distinctly defensive position.

    However, a kicker/punter is a defenseless player through the conclusion of the down (see Article 7)

    Sounds like the only one wrong here is you.

  • WilliamSekinger

    Sure, lets just take the ‘foot’ out of football…

  • Guest

    You could put a little bootie on the kicking machine to keep your ‘foot’ in football.

  • WilliamSekinger

    +1

  • TheDman113

    “So there’s an NFL rule that says a punter is defenseless while he is in the process of trying to tackle the returner?”

    Yep.

    “Seems idiotic to me”

    That’s because you don’t know the rules. Now who’s the genuis?

  • Shannon Stephenson

    Not sure it is cut and dry but I think he will be fined for this hit.

  • Dan

    So he is defenseless purely by virtue of his position? That is a rediculous rule. Ben has punted and wears a low number. Why don’t we just list him on our roster as punter so nobody is allowed to tackle him while a down is in progress. That will ease the burden on our O-line. We’ll line up in punting formation on every play but on 1st through 3rd downs we’ll fake a run or a pass.

  • Richard Edlin

    Wherever the line is, it’s almost guaranteed to be someway short of “broken jaw” and a long way before “broken vertebrae”. There’s really no debate on this one and as a fanbase we look like we’re neanderthals if we quibble.

    I cheered when I saw the hit and thought it was legitimate … looking forward, you’re not going to be done if you get in the way of the punter but clearly looking to destroy him is out. As a player on very little, I suspect Garvin’s going to face a large fine and a suspension is probably likely too.

  • Richard Edlin

    Whiplash won’t break your jaw. This is all wishful thinking.

  • Richard Edlin

    If it’s a punting play, then he’s covered. If he’s a QB and he steps back to pooch punt, he’s probably covered. If he’s lining up under centre or subsequently aims to pass or hand the ball off, there’s no protection.

    If you look at the rule it’s during the kick or during the return. If there’s no kick or return, there’s no protection.

  • DrakePirate

    you are absolutely nuts if u think he is getting suspended … it was a near perfect hit and it appears the only thing illegal about it was it happened to a “Punter” … and I venture to say the only reason he will get fined is not because of the hit, but because how “Effective” the hit actually was which resulted in injury … uninjured and i think they leave it alone .. i hope the guy recovers quickly and hate to see serious injuries, but the hit was “Vicious” not Malicious … and if it was a couple inches lower we wouldnt be having this conversation …

    Garvin made a concerted effort to dip and bend and im sure after all that has happened he probably would liked to have gone just a bit more lower !

  • Richard Edlin

    We’ll see. The “only” thing illegal about it is that he targetted the head of a defenseless player … given his body position and the force used, there was always going to be some contact with the head and so it’s probably going to be viewed as a flagrant/intentional action. As a flagrant foul, he probably ought (in hindsight) to have been ejected in the game and given that it went unpunished, I think a suspension is likely.

    Now I’d agree that that uninjured they probably do leave it alone (or impose a small fine). However, it wasn’t and leagues tend to come down hard on players for things that their officials missed and shouldn’t have, on the basis that they need to have it seen that some actions have no place in the game.

    As for whether I’m nuts – well, that’s a different issue …

  • 2443scott

    reading those rules i cant see how one play can be run with out a flag being thrown i see things like that happen every play some where on field

  • DrakePirate

    You are being way too dramatic, NEVER would have been ejected, wont be suspended and it wasnt even close to being “Flagrant” … I clearly dont think he tartgeted the head (if he had, he wouldnt have bended down and he would have launched ) that said, im thinking 10-15k fine …NFL does want to stop serious injuries, regardless how they were made … i would be beyond shocked if they suspended him, just like I would be shocked if we were docked a draft pick (beyond a token 6th-7th rounder) for Tomlin’s blunder

  • Richard Edlin

    I don’t even think a 7th rounder is likely for the Tomlin stuff … the $100k is enough for their reaction, I suspect. if it looked like that was going to happen, the Steelers by now will have 50 examples where this wasn’t penalised or fined. The only way anything happens at the draft is if Baltimore ends up missing out on the playoffs or has their seeding changed – after today’s result, I can’t see that happening.

  • DrakePirate

    I agree that they prob wont dock them a pick, just saying if the NFL wanted to peacock at all it wouldnt amount to much over a 7th rounder …

  • Nolrog

    Coming soon, all forms of contact are prohibited. You just run up to the guy and say, I got you and the play is over. They would try flags, but people may dive for them and that could cause someone to dive and get their uniform dirty. NFL, it’s Fantastic.

  • srdan

    The rules are the rules, and tehy are left up to interpretation.

    The hit made another player bleed and go on the IR on national TV=fine. They do have to be careful of the fine as this player is making $405/year, figure he gets half of that in cash. You fine him 20k, that’s 10% of his salary. I couldn’t afford it.

  • Jonathon Bert Schade

    Rules and all opinions aside……Garvin is a Steeler and Goodell WILL fine him heavily.

  • JAMESH

    Let me guess……..The guy who spells ‘genius’ as ‘GENUIS?’

  • American Boro

    Can anyone tell me how Garvin should have stopped/tackled Huber?

  • Wayne Darby

    I agree the hit should have been flagged but looking through the rest of these rules, I have to say they are ridiculous. They have pretty much covered all their bases so that they can say a player is defenseless whenever they want. Goodell is the ambiguity genius.

  • Shawn S.

    Great question, and one that I can’t get past. What was Garvin supposed to do to keep Huber from pursuing AB? Give him a bear hug? Punters/kickers should be better coached on pursuing the runner. He acted like no one might hit him.

  • Superdriller316

    I understand what the rule says and it makes no sence. It should be against the law for these rules to be written by lawyers. Nothing is cut and dry, black and white. Everything is left to interpretation and that is where things go wrong.

    When the Steelers played the Ravens at home. The Ravens tried an onsides kick and Sly speared the kicker going after the ball. There was no fine. The kicker took a posture that put his self into the play and he paid the price. The same in this case. The punter put his self in a position to make a tackle and got knocked into next week. When you look at the overhead, Garvin came strait at the punter not from an angle. If he gets fined, appeal. Guys have gotten nothing for worse hits.

  • Frank Smith

    all of you have missed the first sentence cited from the rule book… pre qualifies everything that follows… the citations situation reads as follows: “it is a foul if a player initiates “unnecessary” contact”… clearly the contact was necessary he would have either made the tackle or at least slowed up Brown for someone else to make the tackle… clearly the rule doesn’t apply because the punter chose to participate in the play… the rule speaks of a situation where the punter is not involved the play… in that situation another player can not go out of their way to “unnecessarily” hit him… the hit was legal!!! The initial hit was in the chest of the punter… perfectly legal…. unfortunately injuring the punter it is a contact sport!! is the nfl a contact sport or flag football.. Goodell and the owners must decide… if they want flag football then bring back the AFL which was a contact sport…

  • Rick M

    I’m a total Steelers’ fan who thinks the taking away of a draft choice for Tomlin’s sideline action is ridiculous and biased. BUT, I recognize the need to protect punters as they aren’t normal tacklers, they stay back as the last line of defence and they don’t even engage in the tackle unless the returner has ‘broken one’ and is on his way to a possible touchdown.

    If this had been done to our punter, we’d be yelling bloody murder. Garvin will be both fined and suspended, and he deserves to be. It has nothing to do with the legality of the hit. It has everything to do with protecting the punter – whether he plays for the Pittsburgh Steelers’ or another team. We can debate forever whether such a ‘punter protection’ rule should be in place, whether Garvin knew the guy was the punter, etc. None of that will matter to the league.

    Personally I haven’t seen this type of a hit on a punter in years, if ever, and my guess is that’s because Special Teams players know the rule. The league will come down hard on this – and unlike the Tomlin punishment – I have no problem with that.

  • WilliamSekinger

    I think you are reading more into these rules than is actually there. Nothing in the rules says a punter can’t be blocked. The rules merely designate the punter as defenseless and therefore may not be hit above the shoulders period.

  • Bill Gorry

    I believe that this does not apply. in the first paragraph it specifically states that the contact must be “unnecessary”. This rule prevents kickers from being blown up while not attempting to be apart of the play itself. Remember when a Steelers player (I believe it was Joey Porter) hit the Browns punter immediately following the punt? He popped him good and he was not even close to the play. In this case the punter was in fact in the play and trying to make the tackle. This is evident and absolutely a fact confirmed by viewing the video. This is then a legal hit and he shouldn’t be fined, unless they get him for helmet to helmet which is questionable at best.

  • WilliamSekinger

    Sorry but folks just aren’t comprehending the rule very well…the punter is designated as defenseless for the entire down. This means that the punter may be blocked during a kick return, but being defenseless he is given some extra protection. You can not hit a punter above the shoulders during a return period.

  • Bill Gorry

    Remember, you have to consider the entire first paragraph! If “unnecessary” wasn’t a part of the first paragraph then I would agree that the hit was illegal. However, it is included and I believe its there so that punters can be blocked, regardless of how hard, when they are trying to make a tackle. If this translation is inaccurate, I suggest we teach Troy to punt and have him blow up every punt returner because he cannot be blocked! lol

  • Bill Gorry

    Same this goes for QB’s after they throw an INT. They can be blocked if they are attempting to make a tackle. The rule prevents a defensive player from taking a QB’s (or punter/kicker) head off just after throwing the pick, which has happened before.

  • Bill Gorry

    He was hit in the chest

  • Bill Gorry

    Necessary contact is not a violation of this rule.

  • WilliamSekinger

    I believe he was hit in the chest, and that he did everything he could to square up and make a legal hit. But contact to the head was made weather you want to believe it or not. I don’t believe the head contact was intentional but that doesn’t matter. So, it should have been flagged and he will be fined. Defenseless players may not be hit above the shoulders and a punter is defenseless for the entire down.

    Punters can be blocked, but not hit in the head. Why is this so hard for people to understand?

  • WilliamSekinger

    You are reading the rule incorrectly. Of course the punter can be blocked. But the punter is defenseless through the entire play, therefore he can not be blocked above the shoulders. It’s not that hard of a concept to understand.

  • sean

    i respect and appreciate your position, however I must disagree. Although Huber is a punter and had initially assumed that position during the play, he went from punter to defender / tackler when he assumed that posture to either tackle or cause the receiver to redirect his position / run on the field to avoid him. Thus he was positioning himself to be intricate to the play and forfeited his protected status when he resigned from his position as punter and assumed the roll of defender. Had he opted to remove himself from the play, he would have continued to enjoy a protected status.

    Being unaware of blocker because one’s attend is focused elsewhere does not provide adequate protection from being blocked. He placed himself in the play and was thus removed from the play by the blocker.

    Now, was the hit executed legitimately? I contend it was as the blocker most notably executed the perfect blocking posture: Arms tucked in, leading with the right shoulder, (his helmet did not lead), head slightly to the outside so as to remain in front of the defender and avoid a clip, head lowered to shoulder pad height so as to avoid accidental helmet to helmet collision. One also forgets when a player is wearing a helmet, the top of it acts as a visor which precludes full visionary dexterity. during the initial contact, the blocker was actually seeing nothing but Huber’s lower body. At the speed both were going, this was executed flawlessly via textbook.

  • daddeeekip

    Regardless to popular belief that was a legal block. Garvin was sealing the the lane and theleague would only fine him because of the end result of the play. As a defensive player you are taught to keep your head on a swivel but the punter was clearly looking at the returner and put himself in danger of the block.

  • daddeeekip

    ^^^^^^^^
    AGREE

  • Steeler Wheeler

    Of course. He should have dropped a copy of the NFL/player union agreement in front of him. no way the punter gets over that.

  • Steeler Wheeler

    Good catch, frank, but I would say an attempt to dislodge the ball from a defenseless receiver is very necessary, especially if it helps my team win the game or I get a bigger contract. The ambiguity in the wording and the complete authority the commissioner gave himself are clearly problems for the NFL.

  • James Kling

    I think the Steelers should forfeit another draft pick for this hit.

    It’s the Goodell way…

  • WilliamSekinger

    The block was totally legal right up to the point when he hit the punter’s head. Then it became illegal. The punter is defenseless during the entire play and may not be hit above the shoulders.

  • Bill Gorry

    I agree with this in terms of the helmet to helmet opinion. I still believe this is questionable because I can’t be certain that his helmet hit the punters helmet. The violent hit snapped his head back making it look like the helmet was struck. What I don’t agree with is that people are interpreting this rule to suggest that this rule applies because he is a punter!

  • Chad H

    Who cares fine or not. Garvin is starting to look like a Steeler and smacking the shit outta someone! Another rookie given another year of development and what will we have?

  • sean

    I noticed something else when watching the replay, Garvin actually planted both of his feet and positioned his body correctly prior to the hit and Huber actually accelerated into it. Notice again. Now that cannot be an illegal hit if the defenders own momentum created a more violent collision.

  • Chad H

    This is the type of play we were looking for out of Carter and Sylvester.

  • sean

    Thanks – where can I find article 6?

  • WilliamSekinger

    Do a Google search for NFL rulebook 2013, but you won’t find anything like what Talking-Back posted in Article 6 or anywhere else in the rulebook for that matter.

  • LaDon Aridge

    Facts of the case as relevant.
    Huber is a punter.
    During the return a punter is considered in a defenseless posture
    As a player in a defenseless posture he may not be hit in the head or neck area with a helmet, forearm, shoulder or facemask.
    It doesn’t matter the intent, it appears his helmet made contact with the jaw. Unless you can dispute that then it was an illegal hit.

  • Render21

    Exactly. Not sure what is so complicated about this.

  • sean

    Very interesting. On the field of play, during a play, when a player is “out of position” are all players on the field expected to know the position of every opponent based on the jersey number (are they to be memorized?) What if they are converging at a vantage point which does not disclose or indicate their jersey number or position? I don’t say this tongue and cheek. If a player assumes a new position on the field, how are they identified by position and thus how can they be afforded protection under the rules?

  • TheDman113

    You’re right, there is no way to block a guy other than spearing them in the chin.

  • patrick Mayfield

    This.

    The Helmet to Helmet stuff is all centered around the ball carrier and tackler so far as I know.

  • patrick Mayfield

    This is why he should have to wear a skirt so he can be readily identified…

    The WR numbers overlap the punter numbers so you couldn’t even do this based on identifying his number.

  • patrick Mayfield

    ??

    If he wasn’t hit in the head, how did his jaw break?

  • patrick Mayfield

    it says this:

    “a kicker/punter, who is standing still or fading backward after the ball has been kicked, is out of the play and must not be unnecessarily contacted by the receiving team through the end of the down or until he assumes a distinctly defensive position. However, a kicker/punter is a defenseless player through the conclusion of the down (see Article 7);”

  • LaDon Aridge

    First you don’t need to know them all…you need to know one. The quaterback on an offensive play, the kicker/punter on a special teams play.
    Second, it is your responsibility to know it. It’s no different than when a defense rushes the quaterback, you don’t get to say “oh the play is running, I forgot.”
    Third if you play in the league it’s your responsibility to know the rulebook. The Pats lost earllier this year because they didn’t know the rulebook and the Jets got a second kick.
    Your argument is basically he may be unfamiliar with the rule. It’s your job to know it. Unless you are disputing the facts as I’ve laid them out, it’s an illegal hit.

  • LaDon Aridge

    Per the NFL rules posted above
    (a) Players in a defenseless posture are:
    (6) A kicker/punter during the the kick or during the return.
    So unless you are disputing the fact he was a punter you are ignoring the rulebook. As a player in a defenseless posture you are restricted in how you may block them. There are restrictions for how defensive linemen may be blocked at the line of scrimage as well.

  • Privvy

    If the punter can’t be hit during a return, then he shouldn’t be allowed to interfere with the return either.

  • sean

    I believe the semantic interpretation of the rules may eventually become the essence of the ruling.

    The current rules state that a punter is a defenseless player for the duration of the down, however, it also states that contact with a defenseless player is illegal if it is avoidable.

    In this case, as the punter engaged the receiver during the play, in an effort to influence the play, thus contact with him was no longer avoidable (he ran into it).

    Further to your point, a quarterback is identified by his position on the field prior to commencement of the play. They defense is expected to identify and key on him as he posses the ball, and also because he typically remains behind the play enabling him to be easily identified. During a turnover, he may
    also place himself in a vulnerable position. By definition, only the offense may have a quarterback on the field. When there is a change of possession, the offense concedes the ball and and thus becomes defenders. The defense by definition has no quarterback thus they cannot have one fielded during a turnover. In their words, by their own definitions in the rule book, players assume new positions during a turnover.

    If nothing else, the NFL may need to adjust the ruling to reflect that no defenseless player may engage in pursuit, or persist in a play once their initial duty has completed. They may be penalized for obstruction of the play. But I do acquiesce this is not yet the case and the premise may be subject to debate on another forum.

  • Richard Bramley

    legal, ilegal? I do not know enough about the rules of football to make a judgement. I leave that up to the refs and the league. What I do know is, Garvin really “slobber-knocked” the crap out of Huber. If that would have been my tired old body hit like that, I would probably not have woken up (if ever) for a few days. Can you say….lots and lots of Percocet?

  • sean

    BTW Mr. Aridge- I appreciate the thoughtful and civil debate. It is a pleasant change from watching forum disagreements spiral down into abusive name calling and linguistic pugilism.

  • sean

    I would contend it was hit during incidental contact which the rules acknowledge that incidental contact is permitted. In much the way that head butts in boxing are are violation, incidental headbutts are recognized as an unavoidable and unfortunate part of a very violent sport.

  • sean

    Directly from their Rule Book:
    a kicker/punter, who is standing still or fading backward after the ball has been kicked, is out of the play and must not
    be unnecessarily contacted by the receiving team through the end of the down or until he assumes a distinctly
    defensive position.
    However, a kicker/punter is a defenseless player through the conclusion of the down (see Article
    7);

    So, although he enjoys a protected status if he is so inclined to do so, I would be justified to contend he made his own contact unavoidable by engaging the play.

  • tiredofallthis

    If the rule indeed provides that a punter is considered a defenseless player throughout the entire play, even when he is attempting to tackle the returner, it is totally IDIOTIC. What that means is that you have to block the punter differently than the other 10 players on the kicking team. In case you haven’t noticed, NFL football is a very fast game. How exactly is a blocker supposed to be able to recognize that this particular player is the punter and therefore considered defenseless by rule when the punter is doing the same exact thing that the other 10 players on the kicking team are doing? As I suggested above, perhaps punters and kickers could wear dresses (to paraphrase Jack Lambert) so they would be easily recognized as defenseless. Moreover, what precisely is the rationale for having the rule be that punters/kickers are considered to be defenseless players throughout the entirety of the play, even when they are trying to make a tackle? I certainly understand the designation while they are in the act of kicking, or if they are out of the play. But what possible justification can there be for designating them as defenseless even when they are trying to make a tackle? If the concern is that punters/kickers are so valuable and fragile that they need special protection, then they should be required to exit the field immediately after the act of kicking or else be subject to the same rules as everyone else during the return. Allowing them to remain on the field and try to make tackles while enjoying an enhanced level of protection is absurd.

  • sean

    I would also contend that when he engaged he “Assumed a distinctly defensive position”

  • tiredofallthis

    What’s so hard for me to understand is how the rules can be so completely IDIOTIC as to provide the punter with a higher level of protection even while he is trying to make the tackle. And it’s not like Moses brought the NFL rules down from the mount along with the 10 Commandments, so they are sancrosanct and can never be questioned. They screw around with the NFL Rules every season, and lately they have begun to make the game unwatchable because of IDIOTIC rules like this.

  • LaDon Aridge

    No, the rule was put in place to prevent exactly what happened. Kickers and punters are outweighed by linemen and linebackers by 50 to 100 lbs or muscle or more. It’s to prevent them from unnecessarily teeing off on smaller players who are smaller because their position dictates they be smaller.
    Is a punter not identified on the field prior to the commencement of play? I forgot is not a valid excuse. The rule also applies to quarterbacks during an interception return.
    So far every one of your arguments has been some form of I don’t like the rule and you have yet to argue anything against the facts of the case being anything other than as I laid them out. I also think there’s too much pass interference. I am forced to get over my opinion of that because the rules are what they are.

  • LaDon Aridge

    I can name call with the best of them…but if people treat me intelligently I respond in kind :) (That’s a compliment before anyone tries to take it as something different.)

  • LaDon Aridge

    Paraphrasing the rulebook.
    At the point of kick until the return itself begins you can’t touch him. That’s the out of the play part at the beginning.
    At the point of return he transitions from out of play to defenseless and remains that way until the play ends. Now I really hate the term defenseless, they define what it means but the suggestion is wrong.
    Defenseless doesn’t mean you can’t make a tackle or that you can’t be blocked. It only means that the defenseless player can’t be hit in the head or neck. That’s where the foul occurs.

  • sean

    I believe based on several factors that the hit should be declared clean, legal, and unavoidable.

    The NFL has a history of levying fines for player fouls for either flagrant disregard for player safety, or willful intent to cause harm. I believe there is a compelling case to be presented that neither of those criteria have been met.

    1.) Blocking below the waist on a return is illegal on any player thus the blocker attempted to position his block during play, at full speed, in the strike zone of a pursuing defender, between the waist and the helmet.

    2.) Both of the blockers feet were planted prior to the hit, indicating that he was attempting to halt his forward momentum and brace himself for the unavoidable collision caused by the careless pursuit of the punter (careless because he was not paying attention).

    3.) The blocker tucked in his arms, lowered himself to shoulder pad height and placed it to the side of the defender, leading with his own shoulder, so as to avoid helmet to helmet contact required by the rules.

    4.) The forward momentum of the defender made him careen into what was a suitably poised, well positioned, flawlessly executed execute textbook block, the result of which led to incidental contact with the perusing defender.

    I contend there is subjective interpretation of three points:
    A.) Was the contact avoidable as the Punter engaged in pursuit of the play?
    B.) Was the contact with the head or neck incidental as it appears that the blocker made every effort at full speed to execute a legal hit, and did so without disregard to player safety and lacked willful intent to cause player injury?
    C.) Although the punter is afforded protection under defenseless player status, did the punter “assume a distinctly defensive position” while engaging in the pursuit of the receiver.

    I am not ignoring the facts, just presenting additional facts which may appear to contradict one another.

  • Justin

    You are sorely misinterpreting rule (6). The qualifier is “unnecessary contact.” Huber was within tackling distance of Brown and, therefore, the contact was “necessary.” It would have been unnecessary only if Huber was out of the play.

    Basically, you are permitted to clean anyone’s clock on the field during a kick, you simply cannot do so when he is out of the play. If your interpretation were correct, then punters and kickers should lead the team in special teams tackles, as they would never be blocked.

    Also (b) (1) only applies to a defenseless player, and the punter is only defenseless while his leg is extended or fading backward following a kick.

    No fine and no penalty. You’ll see…

  • Brenda Dinnocenti Beegle

    dude it was clean he was trying to make the tackle , look if ur in the nfl be prepared to take a lick punter or not he is a grown man.

  • Brenda Dinnocenti Beegle

    itr was a clean block not helmet to helmet you can clearly see he was moving his head to the side

  • Brenda Dinnocenti Beegle

    Really seems to me that the more so called safe play and saftey rules made the more they get hurt . go back to the old style peeps didnt get hurt as much as they do now.

  • LaDon Aridge

    You’re still making the argument from what you want the rule to be. It’s far more simple than that.
    Three questions.
    Is Kevin Huber a punter?
    Was the hit around the head or neck area?
    Was the hit delivered with a forearm, helmet, facemask, or shoulder?
    He is indeed a punter, it certainly appears that the helmet made contact with the jaw. If you don’t dispute those facts then it’s a foul.
    It doesn’t matter if it was avoidable, it doesn’t matter if it was intentional, it doesn’t matter what position the punter was in. He is considered in a defenseless position for the entire return.
    I think one thing you’re forgetting is punters wear far less padding than other players. That is why they are given defenseless status.

  • BlugrassFan

    If the NFL wants to protect kickers and punters, why not enact a rule mandating that they sprint to the nearest sideline immediately after kicking or punting the ball until after the play is over. I completely disagree with allowing a player to stay on the field of play and try to make a tackle but pass special rules protecting that player. Just make kickers and punters extricate themselves from the field until the play is complete. This is an easy fix.

  • Phillip Hutton

    I did not see the game, but the clip shows the punter moving in for a tackle. He was obviously not maintaining situational awareness, which is why he was caught by surprise. The blocker was right in front of him, He literally ran into the block. I hope he is alright, but I cannot see anything wrong with the block. It was legit.

  • Phillip Hutton

    The reason the hit was so devastating was because the blocker was essentially standing his ground, giving him the opportunity to plant his feet and block like he was coming off the line, low to high. He could only do that if the punter was running towards him. As I said, I did not see the game, but the clip shows the Punter running directly into the block. At the time of the block, the blocker’s feet were planted and not moving. The punter’s feet were moving.

  • Phillip Hutton

    Heck, if that is the case then why not just give the punter the ball. After all, the rule states that he is untouchable until after the play, regardless of his actions. Once all of the teams start catching on to this loophole in the rules, fans can start expecting very, very high scoring games.

    I can see the play by play commentary already, “Punter gets the ball, Fakes a punt. Starts strolling towards the end zone, Stops to shake hands with all the defenders – what a quality act that punter is. He is definitely not getting tackled. Stops to share a joke with his teammate. Both are laughing – did I mention what a quality act he was. Oh, he continues towards the end zone. TOUCHDOWN! TOUCHDOWN!! The game is now tied 63 to 63!”

  • Zev

    This hit has nothing to do with whether the defender was a punter. It has to do with the defenseless nature of the defender. It saddens me that so many support the hit as being legal because Huber could have made the play. It should be obvious to anyone neutral that Garvin purposefully hit a defenseless player who was totally vulnerable and could not protect himself. If Garvin pushed Huber with his with his hands; if he shielded Huber off; if he hit him in the torso the block would have been more than sufficient. The hit was meant to cause grave harm. And it did. Shame on all of you who defend the act. Huber could have been paralyzed or even killed. It was a criminal act.

  • Scott Lacy

    Couldn’t agree more. It was a coward block that has no place in the game.

  • Scott Lacy

    None of that matters. The situational nature of the play, coupled with the force and target of contact, make it predatory. I don’t care if the punter was running around with his eyes closed, it doesn’t give an opponent the right to crack him in the throat and jaw with a hard-shell helmet.

    News flash: it’s entirely possible to play hard, hit hard *AND* show respect for your opponent.

  • Superdriller316

    That punter is the same size as a CB. I can understand if the punter was out of the play and was targeted. He was trying to make a play. If it wasn’t for the last sentence that says the punter/kicker is defenseless through out the play.
    Here’s another rule that wasn’t flagged or fined. Who gives the league the right to cherry pick.

    Article 8: Initiating Contact with the Crown of the Helmet. It is a foul if a runner or tackler initiates forcible contact by delivering a blow with the top/crown of his helmet against an opponent when both players are clearly outside the tackle box (an area extending from tackle to tackle and from three yards beyond the line of scrimmage to the offensive team’s end line). Incidental contact by the helmet of a runner or tackler against an opponent shall not be a foul.
    Note: The tackle box no longer exists once the ball leaves the tackle box.

    So the Dirty Birds should have been flagged and fined for the hit on Bell.

  • Superdriller316

    So, because Huber isn’t paying attention to his surroundings is Huber’s fault. If that was any other player other than a punter/kicker or QB, that hit would be legal. You can’t have tunnel vision on the field.

  • Superdriller316

    Everyone who is qualified as defenseless should have to wear a PINK JERSEY.

  • sean

    While i appreciate and respect you position Zev, it would occur to me that at full speed, executing a fake block or a half effort block could cause injury to the blocker, as well as be completely ineffective. Why not just call the game a draw? No winner, no ones feeling get hurt either. Of course I say that tongue in cheek but I am trying to illustrate that this is a violent sport and everyone on the field, ESPECIALLY on special teams, knows the perils of down-field play. No player deserves our sympathy becuase they executed their play poorly and left themselves vulnerable to injury. No one should be fined or penalized for hitting too hard. That is the definition of the sport. To overcome and be victorious over your opponent with strength and athletic prowess. It also occurs to me that had the punter been the one who issued the hit on the blocker causing him injury, it is doubtful that there would be any debate. But that could have easily happened becuase the punter in effect ran into the block which made the hit so ferociously violent. Had he been more aware as he should have been, he could have easily dodged the blocker as the blockers feet were planted. Simply put, he ran into was KO’d.

  • Superdriller316

    If you want to stick your nose into a fight with someone who is bigger than you and you get it flattened. You should think twice before you do it again. Huber got his jaw broke. Did he have a mouth piece in? If not then that’s his fault.

  • sean

    Good morning Scott. Why does one fail to recognize the accountability of the punter during the play? He opted to engage the receiver and in doing so, he executed poorly and left himself vulnerable to a blocker who was in position and had the expressed obligation to remove him from the play, thus preventing a possible tackle. The blocker did his job and did so flawlessly at a very high speed. The punter
    exacerbated the violent collision through his own carelessness and careened into the block. It is not the school yard game of red rover. It is physically demanding and the punter paid the price for his poor judgment and execution on the field.

  • sean

    Actually, you may see this eventually. In practices, the QB always wears a full red jersey to identify him to his own defense to prevent accidental contact.

  • sean

    We are in complete agreement

  • sean

    Incidental contact is acceptable under the terms of the current rules. Fines are typically issued for reasons of willful neglect of player safety, willful intent to cause harm or injury, or for conduct unbecoming. By definition, yes the punter indeed enjoys a protected status under the terms of “Defenseless Player” however, the rules also state that contact is acceptable if it is unavoidable and until he assumes a distinctly defensive position.
    By pursuing the receiver, it can be argued that the punter indeed assumed a distinctly defensive position and through his carelessness, ran directly into the blocker creating and unavoidable impact.

  • sean

    He was actually blocked directly at shoulder height. Perfect execution (especially at full speed). Contact with the chin was purely incidental and was a natural, albeit unfortunate, affect of the forward momentum of the punter.

  • Dane Willard

    He contacted him in the chest with his forearms and upper body!! What is he supposed to do “Tilt his head and helmet back 90degrees so it doesn’t interfere with the upper region of the neck and head of the punter”? A object in motion stays in motion when stopped in a sudden instant…..Therefore the punters head kept going to make contact with Garvins, Wasn’t Garvins fault the dumbass wasn’t looking where he was running? If a receiver missed a pass and was pushed into the goalpost, would that be a defenseless player violation??(NO cause he didn’t catch it???

  • sean

    Exactly Bill. The rule also is quite clear that although they enjoy protected “Defenseless Player” status through the conclusion of the play, it also mentions the caveat of “or until he assumes a distinctly
    defensive position.” Clearly, the punter assumed the role of a defender – thus a distinctly defensive position while in pursuit of the receiver.

  • Superdriller316

    Huber listed at 6’1 212 pounds.
    Garvin listed as 6’3 221 pounds
    Troy listed as 5’10 207 pounds
    Sanders listed as 5’11 180 pounds
    AB listed 5’10 186 pounds
    C Allen 6’1 196 pounds
    And so on.
    Players are taught to hit with their head up. So when someone is shorter than you, you have to bend over farther. Not to mention that Huber wasn’t standing straight up. Your head only bends back so far. That being said, to hit a guy square in the numbers with your head up, the crown of your helmet is going to hit you in the jaw. Garvin would have been better off dropping his head. At no point did Garvin drop his head or lead with his head.

  • Superdriller316

    Then they should not be allowed to engage themselves in on the defensive side of the play. I can understand not being allowed to target punters, kickers, and QB’s away from the play. But when said players take a defensive posture to make a play, the last sentence of the rule should not apply.

  • LaDon Aridge

    Your comment should be addressed to the NFL offices in New York. It’s the rule as they deemed it fit.

  • LaDon Aridge

    Avg. NFL punter weight by current players 189 lbs. Avg. weight of current linebackers 237 lbs. So I fail to see your point. Feel free to pull rosters to verify I calculated correctly.
    I’m not sure what your beef is, the NFL verified it as an illegal hit.

  • LaDon Aridge

    Even boxing knows how stupid that statement is, they created weight classes.

  • LaDon Aridge

    The NFL ruled it was an illegal hit as written and interpreted in the rulebook. So basically my argument at this point is as follows
    Scoreboard!

  • Superdriller316

    Appeal any fine. Guys have gotten off for worse. Hell two Ravens get away with spearing. If he has to pay, so be it. Best 21K I’m sure he’s ever spent.

  • Superdriller316

    Good. No one under 220 lb on the field. If you can’t play with the big dogs keep your ass on the porch with the puppies.

    Maybe they are pissed that this is the second Bungel with a broken jaw.

  • Tim Checker

    Unbelievable. That hit was totally uncalled for and a serious breach of ethics as well as illegal. Anyone who sees that as a “Clean” hit never played a day of real ball in his life. Thug behavior is FAR from what we want in any level of sports. This kind of crap should land him in jail, not a contract. And no, it’s not making the game even more pu**y – it’s taking care of the players who have short enough career spans anyway – if you didn’t notice, the Players are the ones asking for better rules, not the fans…Morons…

  • Tim Checker

    Rumor is close to $35k.

  • LaDon Aridge

    That Scoreboard reads $25,000.
    Wait are you whining about Ravens? Man up.

  • Superdriller316

    It ain’t over yet. Read the other post. It can get dropped to 5900 per CBA. Even still, money well spent.

  • Superdriller316

    How many Bungles have been knocked out by Steelers? There’s been 2 broken jaws. I think Hines laid out a safety too. The Bungles might need a few skirts. Is the punter still looking for an apology? Sucks to be him

  • LaDon Aridge

    Illegal hit…$25,000 fine. Yep that pretty much sums it up.

  • LaDon Aridge

    Actually the rules apply to quarterbacks as well. If it were an interception return he would immediately enter the same status.

  • Superdriller316

    Money well spent.

  • LaDon Aridge

    6% of your salary for one avoidable act. Yeah, you would be silly enough to believe that.

  • Superdriller316

    Jaw wired shut. Must suck eating through a straw.

    By the time it’s all said and done, 6K fine if any at all.
    Don’t think he won’t be compensated for the fine if he has to pay.

    RENEGADE HIGHLIGHT

  • LaDon Aridge

    It’s not an illegal hit.
    The NFL has announced today it was an illegal hit
    He won’t get a fine.
    The NFL has announced today a $25,000 fine.
    He’ll get his fine reduced…not such a great track record there. $25,000 and it won’t be reduced. So again.
    Scoreboard!

  • Superdriller316

    It’s under appeal.
    CBA, first offence can’t take any more than 25% of the check.

    Eating through a straw.

  • LaDon Aridge

    Well why don’t you ask Jon Bostic how well that argument worked.
    Could you at least try to be right about something?

  • Superdriller316

    Here’s the rule, from Article 46 of the Collective Bargaining Agreement:
    “On appeal, a player may assert, among other defenses, that any fine should be reduced because it is excessive when compared to the player’s expected earnings for the season in question. However, a fine may be reduced on this basis only if it exceeds 25 percent of one week of a player’s salary for a first offense, and 50 percent of one week of a player’s salary for a second offense. A player may also argue on appeal that the circumstances do not warrant his receiving a fine above the amount stated in the schedule of fines.”

    From a later post by Dave Bryan

  • Superdriller316

    The Bengals suck! That’s a correct statement.
    They’ve NEVER won a Super Bowl. Doubt they ever will.

  • LaDon Aridge

    Yes and Jon Bostic made that same argument for his $21k fine and was overruled. Precedent is already set.
    Perhaps you can look up at the sky and guess whether it is the sun or the moon. You’ve at least got a 50/50 shot at being right.

  • LaDon Aridge

    That’s because we play football not thugball. And we keep our coaches off the field.

  • Superdriller316

    I have a 100% chance that the Bungirls punter is on IR

  • LaDon Aridge

    Wrong again, Shawn Powell is not on the IR.
    You’re making it too easy.

  • Superdriller316

    Your coach used to be one of our coaches.

  • Superdriller316

    The one eating through a straw

  • Superdriller316

    You would think Deebo would make you girls a little tougher. Guess he can only do so much with what he’s got. Sad….

  • GulfCoastRick

    Very cheap shot by a player that was clearly leading with his helmet to the head area. Very, very dangerous conduct by Garvin and I believe it should have resulted in a touchdown negating 15 yard penalty, but also an ejection from the game.
    These kinds of things have no place in football at any level.

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