NFL suspends Joe Mays for one game

Denver Broncos linebacker Joe Mays has been suspended for one game and fined $50,000 by NFL vice president of football operations Merton Hanks for an illegal hit against a defenseless player, the league announced. Mays was penalized for roughing the passer in the third quarter for an illegal hit to the head of Houston Texans quarterback Matt Schaub.

Mays may not practice this week or be at the team practice facility or stadium for any other activities during the suspension. He will be reinstated on Monday, October 1. Under the Collective Bargaining Agreement, the suspension may be appealed within three business days and an expedited hearing and decision would take place this week in advance of Sunday's game. Appeals are heard and decided by either Art Shell or Ted Cottrell, the officers jointly appointed and compensated by the NFL and NFLPA to decide appeals of on-field player discipline.

Rule 12, Section 2, Article 7 of the NFL Rule Book states: "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."

Mays was in violation of Rule 12, Section 2, Article 7(b)(1) which sets forth the following prohibited contact against a player who is in a defenseless posture:

"Forcibly hitting the defenseless player's head or neck area with the helmet, facemask, forearm, or shoulder, regardless of whether the defensive player also uses his arms to tackle the defenseless players by encircling or grasping him."

Mays' actions also violated Rule 12, Section 2, Article 8(c) which provides:

HITS TO PASSER'S HEAD AND USE OF HELMET AND FACEMASK

(c) In covering the passer position, Referees will be particularly alert to fouls in which defenders impermissibly use the helmet and/or facemask to hit the passer, or use hands, arms, or other parts of the body to hit the passer forcibly in the head or neck area (see also the other unnecessary roughness rules covering these subjects). A defensive player must not use his helmet against a passer who is in a defenseless posture—for example, (1) forcibly hitting the passer's head or neck area with the helmet or facemask, regardless of whether the defensive player also uses his arms to tackle the passer 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 passer's body. This rule does not prohibit incidental contact by the mask or non-crown parts of the helmet in the course of a conventional tackle on a passer.

For more coverage of the NFL, go to profootball.scout.com. Follow me on Twitter: @RavensInsider

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