Michael Bennett was involved in a scrum at the end of the Seattle-Jacksonville game on Sunday, when the Jaguars were kneeling to end the game. He dove at center Brandon Linder’s knees at the start of the play, then went back again at them from behind as the play concluded, leading to a confrontation with Leonard Fournette.
It was cheap and utter nonsense from a frustrated player, and it was part of the atmosphere that also included Sheldon Richardson getting ejected for throwing a punch, and Quinton Jefferson getting ejected on the next play for unnecessary roughness, then mixing it up with fans.
After the game, Bennett also shut down questions to Jefferson about his actions, and said he did not have to explain himself.
Bennett should be facing discipline from the league, and the only question after all the suspensions last week is how much. I said that Rob Gronkowski should have gotten more than a game, compared to plays that happened in the normal bang-bang moments of a game, when he dove at the back of the head of a player laying on the sideline. Well, to be consistent, Bennett also deserves more punishment.
Diving at knees in a kneel down play is bush league. It displays a callous disregard and respect for the opposing players, beyond the outcome of a game. Bennett standing up vocally for Jefferson in the locker room is fine in a vacuum, but it rings quite hollow when Bennett’s actions were a key reason why things escalated. Like Gronkowski’s play, it was a frustration play by a player, with clear disregard for the health of another player.
One reason that punishment exists is for future deterrence. If kneel down plays devolve into brawls and cheap shots, then the league risks a major black eye. Players need to know that punishment for such displays during a play that is largely ceremonial is strong enough to make it not worth their while. The game is over so ejection is pointless. I expect that the league will come down hard on Bennett for his actions and the minimum is a one-game suspension, and I would give him two games.
It was also a selfish display by Bennett. The Seahawks are facing what amounts to a two-game playoff, with the NFC West showdown with the Rams, followed by a game against Dallas (chasing them in the wildcard), who will get Ezekiel Elliott back. Even a one-game suspension impacts Seattle greatly. He may have a whole offseason to not explain himself if he hurts the team at a key moment.