In the game against the Bills, Dolphins’ WR Jarvis Landry absolutely crushed safety Aaron Williams on a block. Williams had neck and head injuries and ended up in the hospital.
While Landry was flagged on the play, he was not ejected from the game. According to NFL head of officiating Dean Blandino, the reason he wasn’t thrown out is simply because the refs can’t know his intent on that hit. Was he trying to hit Williams in the head and hurt him, or was he just trying to throw a hard block – he did lead with his shoulder, after all – and not getting low enough? Blandino said:
“It’s certainly a foul. It’s certainly something that we’ll review for potential discipline, but it’s still a football play, and it’s tough to read intent there. That’s why the officials kept him in the game. It’s not an automatic ejection. It’s up to the discretion of the crew and they didn’t feel like it was flagrant enough to throw the player out of the game.”
He went on to note that:
“We have very few automatic ejections in the game today. If you get two unsportsmanlike conduct fouls in the same game, if you put your hands on a game official in an aggressive way, those are automatic ejections. Punching an opponent.”
The problem with ejecting a player in that situation is that an honest attempt to throw a good shoulder-to-chest block could end that player’s day if he just went a touch too high or the defender ducked his head – something the other player can’t control. If intent to injure were involved, the call would be easy, but Landry apologized after the hit and it’s hard to know what he meant to do.