Cincinnati Bengals safety George Iloka was originally suspended for his helmet-to-helmet hit on Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown. On Wednesday, the NFL decided to reverse that decision.
“Bengals S George Iloka won his appeal and will not be suspended, per source,” wrote ESPN’s Adam Schefter.
The hit came on a touchdown pass near the end of the game. As Brown hauled in the ball, Iloka flew across the field and lit him up. Astoundingly, Brown held on even through the contact. The Steelers went on to win the game.
It’s one of those plays that happens very quickly in real time, and some quickly said it was not malicious. That included Steelers safety Mike Mitchell.
“Steeler Nation, [George Iloka] is a good friend,” Mitchell wrote on Twitter. “Weve [sic] spent many summers training together. HES NOT A DIRTY PLAYER. He’s a Standup guy just a hard nosed no bs player. In no way was he tryna hurt AB just like I know [Steelers wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster] wasn’t trying to hurt #55 [Bengals linebacker Vontaze Burfict]. Football is violent! #Facts.”
Even so, the game saw multiple injuries and, before this reversal, multiple suspensions. Smith-Schuster also got a game for laying out Burfict and taunting him. There are those that think overturning the Iloka suspension could make the next game even worse.
“The NFL throws kerosene onto the fire for the next Steelers-Bengals game by overturning the George Iloka suspension,” wrote Ray Fittipaldo of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. “There will be another Steelers-Bengals game in primetime next year and they’ll tons of money off it. More blood will be shed.”
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