NFL suspends Steelers’ Damontae Kazee for rest of season over huge hit

Pittsburgh Steelers safety Damontae Kazee’s big hit on Indianapolis Colts wide receiver Michael Pittman Jr. led to major consequences from the NFL on Monday.

Kazee was suspended for the rest of the season, including the postseason, the league announced. The NFL cited “repeated violations of playing rules intended to protect the health and safety of players” as the reason for the stark punishment.

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Indianapolis Colts wide receiver Michael Pittman Jr., #11, is hit by Pittsburgh Steelers safety Damontae Kazee, #23, during the first half of an NFL football game in Indianapolis on Saturday, Dec. 16, 2023. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)

The defensive back hit Pittman while the wide receiver was diving for the ball on a pass from Gardner Minshew. Kazee was ejected from the game and Pittman suffered a concussion.

Jon Runyan, the NFL’s vice president of football operations, addressed a letter to Kazee.

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Michael Pittman Jr catches

Indianapolis Colts wide receiver Michael Pittman Jr., #11, catches a pass before being hit by Pittsburgh Steelers safety Damontae Kazee, #23, during the first half of an NFL football game in Indianapolis on Saturday, Dec. 16, 2023. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)

“With 8:49 remaining in the 2nd quarter, you were involved in a play that the League considers a serious violation of the playing rules,” 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.

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“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.”

Damontae Kazee celebrates

Pittsburgh Steelers safety Damontae Kazee, #23, celebrates after a play on Saturday, Dec. 16, 2023, during a game against the Indianapolis Colts at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis. (Grace Hollars/IndyStar / USA TODAY NETWORK)

Kazee could appeal the suspension. He was already fined four times this season for either “impermissible use of the helmet” or a “hit to a defenseless receiver.”

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For now, Kazee is set to miss games against the Cincinnati Bengals, Seattle Seahawks and Baltimore Ravens, along with any potential playoff games.

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