NFL upholds Damontae Kazee’s suspension, but Steelers safety could return for playoffs

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Damontae Kazee will miss the final three games of the regular season after the Pittsburgh Steelers safety lost his appeal with the league over his suspension handed down earlier this week. The NFL banned Kazee for the remainder of the season following his helmet-to-helmet hit on Indianapolis Colts wide receiver Michael Pittman Jr. in the Steelers’ 30-13 loss on the road in Week 15. 

Kazee can return for the playoffs if the 7-7 Steelers quality for postseason play. 

In a letter to Kazee, NFL vice president of football operations Jon Runyan wrote the following statement:

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

The hit, shown in the video below, occurred as Kazee flew downfield to pop Pittman in the head and neck area as the receiver attempted to come down with the football. 

The hit forced Pittman to leave the game with a concussion. Kazee, as previously reported, appealed his suspension but to no avail. 

“I want to bring light to the situation of defensive players who are in a position feeling like they have to make plays to keep their job, but also not having any intent to injure,” Ron Butler said. “This is the most I’ve dealt with fines since I’ve been an agent. I understand they’re trying to clean up the game, but at this point it’s a bit extreme. As for the notion of Kazee receiving a harsher punishment for being a ‘repeat violator’ you have to remember most of his fines that were assessed this season got rescinded after appeal. So we have to be careful about that classification and narrative.”

The 30-year-old is in his seventh NFL season and second with the Steelers in 2023. Kazee was a fifth-round pick of the Atlanta Falcons in the 2017 NFL Draft. His two interceptions this season are tied with cornerback Levi Wallace for the Pittsburgh team lead. Pro Bowl safety Minkah Fitzpatrick (knee) is already ruled out for Week 16 against the Bengals while safety Trenton Thompson is questionable with a stinger. The team may need cornerback Patrick Peterson to rotate in at safety this week.  



Pittsburgh Steelers safety Damontae Kazee has lost his appeal with the NFL over his suspension for a helmet-to-helmet hit on Indianapolis Colts wide receiver Michael Pittman Jr. Kazee will miss the final three games of the regular season but could return for the playoffs if the Steelers qualify. The NFL vice president of football operations, Jon Runyan, wrote a letter to Kazee stating that his hit was a serious violation of the playing rules and carried a significant risk of injury. The hit forced Pittman to leave the game with a concussion. Kazee, who is in his seventh NFL season and second with the Steelers, has two interceptions this season. The team may need cornerback Patrick Peterson to rotate in at safety in Kazee’s absence.

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