In recent years, the NFL has made player safety a priority. The reason why was on display Saturday night in Denver, where Broncos wide receiver Wes Welker sustained his third concussion in less than a year after taking a shot to the head from Houston Texans safety D.J. Swearinger.
In Swearinger's defense, the second-year defensive back didn't lead with his helmet. Swearinger lowered his shoulder just before Welker lowered his head. It was an unfortunate outcome, but an accident nonetheless.
Well, now he's drawn another suspension, and it's fair to wonder if Meriweather should be allowed to continue his career at the potential expense of others.
NFC Football Communications Director Randall Liu tweeted Monday that Meriweather has been suspended for the first two games of the 2014 season for his sixth violation of player safety rules:
Yes, you read that right. Sixth.
News of the suspension did not exactly stun the Twitterverse:
According to Will Brinson of CBS Sports, there is at least something of a silver lining in this for Meriweather:
Kidding aside, this is no laughing matter for the Redskins, who have to be tiring of Meriweather's act by now.
During one of those hits against the Packers, Meriweather gave himself a concussion after launching himself at running back James Starks (who was in the game only because Meriweather had given Eddie Lacy a concussion earlier in the game).
Seriously. You can't make this stuff up.
This year was supposed to be different. As Mike Jones of The Washington Post reports, Meriweather vowed to change his act, spending the offseason "lowering his strike zone."
I guess the pitch against the Ravens Saturday just got away from him.
Meriweather, for his part, defended his latest hit while speaking with Jones:
No, I don’t (think the hit was illegal). But at the same time, I’m not the one who wrote the book on penalties,” he said. “I tried to aim at his numbers. I kind of seen the pass go, and I went in and aimed low, and I hit him with my shoulder. I did everything my coaches taught me to do, and I got the flag.
Meriweather's teammates also came to his defense:
Granted, you can say this. Saturday's hit is nothing compared to the human javelin nonsense that got Meriweather in hot water last year. In fact, in many ways, the hit was similar to Swearinger's. Lowered shoulder meets lowered head.
The problem is, when taken in context with Meriweather, it shows just how little was changed.
Meriweather has always been (and apparently continues to be) more interested in knocking people out than wrapping them up. After all, why get a base hit when you can swing for the fences?
(All these baseball metaphors, I'm starting to wonder if I took a shot to the head.)
Maybe if Meriweather wasn't so worried about landing haymakers he might make a few more stops. According to Pro Football Focus (subscription required), only four safeties in the NFL missed more tackles than Meriweather last year.
Those missed tackles contributed to Meriweather ranking 77th at his position last year, per PFF. Among NFC East safeties, only teammates Bacarri Rambo and E.J. Biggers were worse.
In fact, Washington's desperation at the strong safety spot may well be the only thing keeping Meriweather on the roster at this point.
Mind you, we're not talking about Eric Berry, T.J. Ward or Kam Chancellor, an elite talent who could inspire coaches to grin and bear it where the occasional misstep is concerned.
No, in Meriweather instead we have a marginal talent who continually leaves his team short-handed because he can't (or won't) learn how to play well with others.
Frankly, the argument can be made that given Meriweather's "resume," two games is a gift. Maybe the nature of the play had something to do with that. Maybe it was the phases of the moon. With NFL commissioner Roger Goodell and suspensions, logic is optional.
Even so, the next shady hit from Meriweather will likely mean at least four games off, and we've been given exactly zero reason to think that the next time won't happen in fairly short order.
At that point, desperate or not the Redskins have to cut bait. I'd applaud the team if they did so now.
Because Brandon Meriweather's biggest priority on a football field appears to be knocking people out.
And given what we know about head trauma now, there's absolutely no place for that in today's NFL.
Gary Davenport is an NFL Analyst at Bleacher Report and a member of the Fantasy Sports Writers Association and the Pro Football Writers of America. You can follow Gary on Twitter @IDPManor.
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