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Dante Wesley hit video: Cheap shot or accident?

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UPDATE: The NFL has suspended Wesley one game without pay for this hit. Is that an appropriate punishment?

Carolina Panthers cornerback Dante Wesley will probably find himself the recipient of a big, fat fine and perhaps a suspension after his brutal hit on Tampa Bay Buccaneers return man Clifton Smith yesterday.

Basically, Wesley came down the field at full-tilt and absolutely laid out the defenseless Smith, who was waiting for a punt to come down.



Wesley was ejected after the melee and Smith sustained a concussion that prevented him from returning to the game. More concerning, the Buccaneer was unable to speak due to a throat injury.

Wesley, an eight-year veteran, said that the hit was more accidental than intentionally malicious.

"It wasn't like I deliberately tried to hurt anybody or nothing like that, that's not even me," Wesley said. "So it just so happened, I hit him. My prayers are out with him. I would never try to hurt anyone, I was just trying to make a play."
Is any additional punishment in order for Wesley, or is the ejection enough?

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12 Comments

That hit looked intentional to me. As he approached the punt returner, he had several yards and seconds to think about how he would approach the situation. From the video, he appeared to "wind up" and hit the carrier. There was intent to crush. It was not accidental. The NFL is legislating against these types of play - hitting a defenseless player, so he will and should be fined heavily - say, $50,000 and may be suspended a game.

Unwarranted, Uncalled for, & Ugly

Ejected -- and soon to be fined and suspended.

That was a vicious and malicious hit Dante Wesley made on Clifton Smith. Wesley can clearly be seen leaving the turf and making himself a human projectile. His actions were reminiscient of Doug Plank back in the day. Didn't they make a rule that forbids players from making these sorts of plays? Wesley deserves no less than a HEFTY fine and no less than a 2 game supension

Wesley definitely went for the head, and the refs did what was necessary. I'm sure Goodell will not be lenient in his judgment, and he shouldn't be.

Brutal hit, but shouldnt the returner have called fair catch? Thats what thats for and I dont think he called for one. If he did the guy should be fined, suspended etc. If he didnt call a fair catch he asked for it and the panthers player should of been out for the next play.

Dave, you can't hit the guy before he's touched the ball. doesn't matter if he called for a fair catch or not. If he hasn't touched the ball, you can't hit him.

I thought this was a lot worse than it turned out to be. The guy deserves a fine and suspension. That's a given, but the way I read it was even worse. I'm glad that was wrong. This is bad enough, but I really am disappointed a certain writer who declared that Wesley elbowed Smith in the head and went helmet to helmet. The thing is, the way Wesley launched himself, it could have been much more serious had Smith dipped to catch the ball. I hope Wesley considers that while he's spending time watching football on TV. In a case like this, I'd suspend him for as long as Smith is out, plus a few more games for good measure. This was thuggery, pure and simple. In real life, it would be felony assault with intent. It still might be.

Dave, you can't hit the guy if he hasn't caught the ball so he didn't "ask" for it. It doesn't matter if he called fair catch or not. It matters if he caught the ball or not.

He's not an idiot. He's played on special teams for years. He knew exactly what he was doing. The returner never called for a fair catch, he saw that, and tried to knock the ball out and cause a fumble. He just has poor timing and got there before the ball. Does it look horrific, yes. But had he done the exact same thing but succeeded in knocking the ball out with proper timing, and recovered the fumble, we would be applauding him with the caveat that an injury was caused on the play. And if you watch the slow motion replay he using his forward momentum to propel himself into the returner and hits him with his arm and shoulder first. He even slows down before the hit. And he actually goes out of his way to change the position of his body to not hit the returner in the head. Just really bad timing. I understand the refs decision to kick him out. Without the use of replay it looks terrible. But after watching it in slo-mo, I don't think he deserves a suspension. I'm not sure he even deserves a fine. But that's my opinion. We'll see what the NFL says.

He's not an idiot. He's played on special teams for years. He knew exactly what he was doing. The returner never called for a fair catch, he saw that, and tried to knock the ball out and cause a fumble. He just has poor timing and got there before the ball. Does it look horrific, yes. But had he done the exact same thing but succeeded in knocking the ball out with proper timing, and recovered the fumble, we would be applauding him with the caveat that an injury was caused on the play. And if you watch the slow motion replay he using his forward momentum to propel himself into the returner and hits him with his arm and shoulder first. He even slows down before the hit. And he actually goes out of his way to change the position of his body to not hit the returner in the head. Just really bad timing. I understand the refs decision to kick him out. Without the use of replay it looks terrible. But after watching it in slo-mo, I don't think he deserves a suspension. I'm not sure he even deserves a fine. But that's my opinion. We'll see what the NFL says.

"It wasn't like I deliberately tried to hurt anybody or nothing like that, that's not even me," Wesley said. "So it just so happened, I hit him. My prayers are out with him. I would never try to hurt anyone, I was just trying to make a play."

Wesley has never made a similar hit like that on another player. This was unintentional. The ejection was enough. He was not celebrating after the hit. Obviously, this was an unfortunate event. Wesley has a wife and 2 kids. He's would never hurt anyone!

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