Houston Texans defensive end Antonio Smith has been suspended by the NFL for the season opener and the last two preseason games for hitting Miami guard Richie Incognito with the Dolphins player's helmet.
Houston Texans defensive end Antonio Smith — suspended Wednesday for two preseason games and the regular-season opener for swinging a helmet at Miami Dolphins right guard Richie Incognito — has appealed, and the appeal will be heard Thursday, a source told FOX Sports.
FOX Sports NFL insider Jay Glazer obtained video footage for FOX Football Daily (6 p.m. ET, FOX Sports 1) that showed Smith ripping off Incognito’s helmet and swinging it toward his face during last Saturday’s preseason game. The blow glanced off Incognito’s shoulder.
Smith and Incognito have tussled in previous matchups. Smith told FOX 26 in Houston on Tuesday that he was “disappointed in myself I was able to let (Incognito) get to me in the way that he did . . . I just swung the helmet out of frustration.”
Smith can attend team meetings before the next two preseason games but is barred from practicing, and playing Sunday against New Orleans or Aug. 29 against Dallas. Smith also is suspended for Week 1 of the regular season. He may not participate in any team activities until reinstatement on Sept. 10, the day after Houston’s regular-season opener against San Diego.
One of the Texans’ top defensive players, Smith will forfeit about $353,000 for the games missed. That translates into one-seventeenth of his $6 million base salary in 2013.
A flag wasn’t thrown on the play that drew such a stiff punishment from the league office. The NFL acknowledged Wednesday that Smith should have gotten penalized for unnecessary roughness and ejected for using his helmet as a weapon.
League spokesman Michael Signora pointed to Rule 12, Section 2, Article 16 of the NFL rulebook that states, “A player may not use a helmet that is no longer worn by anyone as a weapon to strike, swing at, or throw at an opponent. Penalty for illegal use of a helmet as a weapon (is) loss of 15 yards and automatic disqualification. If the foul is by the defense, it is also an automatic first down.”
Incognito, who has tried to shed the label of being a “dirty” player from earlier in his nine-year NFL career, addressed the subject Tuesday with Dolphins media.
“Football’s an intense game,” Incognito said. “It’s played with a lot of passion. Blood runs hot. I’ve been there. I’m no choir boy. People lost their cool. Just thank God no one got hurt.”
The appeal will be heard and decided by former NFL assistant coach Ted Cotrell or recently retired center Matt Birk. They are the officers jointly appointed and compensated by the NFL and NFL Players Association to decide appeals of on-field player discipline.