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Hit that injured Lockette was illegal, but NFL didn’t fine Heath

Ricardo Lockette


The NFL has confirmed that Cowboys safety Jeff Heath committed an illegal blindside block when he inflicted a season-ending neck injury on Seahawks receiver Ricardo Lockette on Sunday. But in a surprising decision, the NFL did not fine Heath for the hit.

Ordinarily, fines for illegal blindside blocks are $23,152. NFL head of officiating Dean Blandino said in the NFL’s weekly officiating video, however, that league discipline considers other factors beyond strictly whether a penalty was committed, and Heath’s hit wasn’t considered dirty.

“As part of the discipline process, when it’s reviewed during the week, you can consider mitigating factors, mitigating factors such as the receiver’s head level changing. Those types of things are considered in the potential fine process. On the field, the rule is strict liability for the player delivering the block,” Blandino said.

It’s surprising to see the NFL let a player off without a fine when he committed a penalty that resulted in another player being seriously injured. But the NFL’s decisions on fining players are often surprising.