Pittsburgh Steelers safety Damontae Kazee has been suspended without pay for the rest of the NFL season following a hard hit on Indianapolis Colts wide receiver Michael Pittman Jr. on Saturday.
Kazee hit Pittman with a forceful blow to the head as his opponent dived to catch a low pass from Gardner Minshew midway through the second quarter of Saturday’s game, which the Colts won 30-13.
Kazee was ejected in the aftermath of the incident, which caused Pittman to leave the game with a concussion.
On Monday, the league’s vice president of football operations Jon Runyan handed down the suspension, saying Kazee had a history of violating rules intended to protect players’ safety.
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In a letter to Kazee, Runyan wrote: “The video of the play shows that you delivered a forcible blow to the head/neck area of Colts receiver Michael Pittman Jr., who was in a defenseless posture.
“You had an unobstructed path to your opponent and the illegal contact could have been avoided. Your actions were flagrant, and as a result, you were disqualified from the game.
“When players violate the rules intended to protect player safety on a repeated basis, and particularly when the violations carry with them a significant risk of injury to an opposing player, it is appropriate to impose substantially greater penalties.”
— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) December 17, 2023
Kazee will now miss the Steelers’ remaining regular-season games against the Cincinnati Bengals, Seattle Seahawks and Baltimore Ravens.
He will also be banned for any potential playoff games his team are involved in, should the 7-7 Steelers recover from their slump to reach the postseason.
Kazee had already been fined a total of $59,030 for five separate unnecessary roughness violations this season, and this suspension will cost him $208,000 in salary, provided he does not win an appeal against the sanction.