Video surfaced on Monday, via Jay Glazer of Fox Sports, of Houston Texans defensive end Antonio Smith removing the helmet of Miami Dolphins guard Richie Incognito and swinging it at him during a preseason game over the weekend. A suspension was surely coming, and the NFL officially suspended Smith for the final two preseason games and Week 1 of the regular season on Wednesday. As part of the suspension, Smith will forfeit one game check ($352,941), or 1/17th of his $6 million base salary for this season.
Smith and Incognito have a history of bad blood dating back to Week 1 of last year, when Smith was fined $21,000 ($11,000 after an appeal) for kicking the Dolphins’ guard. Smith cited Icognito for dirty play and attempting to injure his ankle in a scramble to recover a fumble, and similar actions from Icognito may have preceded this latest incident.
Smith has already said he plans to appeal the suspension and also said, via the Houston Chronicle, that he did not swing Icognito’s helmet and “restrained himself”. With his history of rules violations, seven times since 2011 according to Tom Pelissero of USA TODAY Sports, perhaps Smith needs to practice better restraint on the field.
Incognito routinely draws the ire of opposing defensive lineman for his physical, and some would say chippy, style of play. So if he got under Smith’s skin once, it’s not surprising he did so a second time. Incognito deserves his share of blame for the incidents with Smith escalating the way they have, but at least he’s smart enough to be the instigator and not the retaliator.
With his recent history of pushing the boundaries of the league’s rules, I think Smith deserves a longer suspension than he got. As a starter he likely would have played a good chunk of Houston’s third preseason game prior to sitting out the preseason finale, and entering his 10th year in the league he probably considers a break from practicing a blessing. Smith will miss one meaningful game, and one the Texans should win easily against the San Diego Chargers at that, which is too small of a price to pay for using a piece of someone else’s uniform as a weapon.
Brad Berreman is a contributing writer at Rant Sports.com. Follow him on Twitter @bradberreman24.