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Dunta Robinson Update: NFL VP Clarifies Suspension Warning, 'Defenseless Player' Definition

NFL executive vice president Ray Anderson was interviewed Tuesday on Mike & MIke in the Morning. Anderson was asked to elaborate on the league's plans to suspend violent offenders:

Anderson cited Rule 12, Section 2, Article 8 of the rule book, which addresses hits to the head or neck. He said that if a player initiates contact on a defenseless player with his forearm, shoulder, or helmet, he will be in violation of existing rules, and the NFL's new approach will be to exact punishment in each and every one of these incidents. First-time offenders, he said, will not be exempt.

Anderson made a point to define the "defenseless player" -- for example, he said, a player in pursuit of the ball is a defenseless player, but a runner in possession of the ball is not. Mike Golic asked Anderson whether such hits to a runner in possession of the ball are "fair game," which Anderson did not deny.

By that definition of defenseless player, DeSean Jackson was not defenseless when he was struck by Dunta Robinson. Jackson wasn't entirely in possession of the ball, but he was much, much closer to being a ballcarrier than he was to being a "player in pursuit of the ball." He had both hands securely on the ball, had taken a step since catching it, and was in the process of taking another.

Watch the video again -- Jackson has already tucked the ball away and looked upfield by the time Robinson arrives. The fact that it's a gray area, let alone the closer-to-acceptable side of that gray area, means Robinson should not be suspended.

The point of impact appears to be more in the shoulder and chest area than in Jackson's neck, though buckling did cause the two players' helmets to touch as well.

Photographs by coka_koehler used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.