The NFL is insistent its goal is to focus on both player safety overall, and protecting the quarterback. In two consecutive weeks, however, they've kicked up a tornado of questions on if this is actually the case. This time around, the controversy is fueled by Charles Harris, after the veteran pass rusher knocked Teddy Bridgewater out of the Carolina Panthers prime time clash with the Atlanta Falcons on Thursday night with an illegal blow the head. Bridgewater would later return to the game despite neck and shoulder soreness, but the Panthers would end up losing 25-17.
Harris was ejected for the hit, but the Panthers and many around the league want to see more punishment levied, but they won't get their wish. Harris will reportedly not be fined or suspended for his on-the-field action, per Tom Pelissero of NFL Network, and the aforementioned ejection will be the extent of his punishment.
Here's the hit laid on Bridgewater by Harris, and it is brutal.
Charles Harris was ejected after this hit on Teddy. pic.twitter.com/jWk3kcjwia— uSTADIUM (@uSTADIUM) October 30, 2020
The news of no fine or suspension on Harris comes only days after the league decided it would not suspend Washington linebacker Jon Bostic for his illegal blow to the head on Andy Dalton -- who was already on the ground after giving himself up on a scramble by sliding on the play. Bostic, too, was ejected at the time, but he will not miss any time going forward, although Dalton is expected to be absent for at least the Cowboys battle in Week 8 with the Philadelphia Eagles.
The infractions by Harris and Bostic are also eerily similar, and Bostic was fined $12,000.
Andy Dalton took a nasty hit to the head pic.twitter.com/Yg913OGotr— Jon Machota (@jonmachota) October 25, 2020
"Yeah, I thought it was a cheap shot," running back Mike Davis said, via ESPN's David Newton. "It was late, hit him on the neck. You hate to see that."
Unlike Dalton, Bridgewater will not miss any time, but it doesn't discount the actions of Harris. And given the league's decision for non-action on the latter, it's fair to wonder if certain players will now feel more emboldened to lay dirty hits knowing the potential worst-case scenario is an ejection and not a suspension. That's something the NFL will need to consider heavily, having now decided twice -- in rapid succession -- to not drop the hammer when a QB is brutalized illegally.