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Ed Reed will play for the Baltimore Ravens this weekend against the San Diego Chargers after the Pro Bowl safety’s one-game National Football League suspension for illegal hits was reduced to a $50,000 fine.
Reed appealed the NFL’s penalty for repeated violations of a rule banning helmet-to-helmet hits against a defenseless opponent. His blow to the head of Pittsburgh Steelers receiver Emmanuel Sanders three days ago was his third such hit in three seasons.
“I’m grateful to continue playing this game with my teammates,” Reed told reporters yesterday at a charity event. “The rules of the game have changed. Over my career I’ve never been that guy, and I don’t plan on being that guy.”
Ted Cottrell, the hearing officer in the appeal, reduced Reed’s penalty yesterday after determining the player’s actions didn’t warrant a one-game ban without pay. The sanction would have cost Reed about $450,000 in salary and forced him to miss the Nov. 25 game at San Diego.
“I have determined that your actions were egregious and warrant significant discipline,” Cottrell said in a letter to Reed that was distributed by the NFL. “However, I do not believe that your actions were so egregious as to subject you to a one-game suspension without pay.”
Cottrell conducted the appeal by telephone with Reed and representatives from the NFL Players Association.
Ravens General Manager Ozzie Newsome said in a statement yesterday that the appeals process gave Reed the chance to answer questions about his play. Newsome added that he believes Reed “clearly tries to play within the rules on every down.”
Reed received a $21,000 fine and an unnecessary roughness penalty following a September hit on New England Patriots receiver Deion Branch, and a $10,000 fine for roughing the passer after an unnecessary blow to the head of New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees in 2010.
“None of those were with intent to injure or to harm in any way,” Ravens coach John Harbaugh told reporters two days ago. “Ed respects the game. He respects his fellow players. After the New England one, he and Branch, they knew right away, and they were hugging each other. He’s got tremendous respect for the game, and we stand behind him.”
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