The one-game suspension of Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster has been upheld, while the one-game ban for Cincinnati Bengals cornerback George Iloki has been reduced to only a fine.
Smith-Schuster’s appeal hearing was heard by appeals officer James Thrash on Tuesday and Iloka’s hearing was heard by Derrick Brooks Tuesday night, but the decision wasn’t rendered until Wednesday.
Iloka’s agent release a statement soon after the decision was announced.
Statement from George Iloka’s agent Ron Slavin following the reduction of his client’s suspension from a suspension to a fine. pic.twitter.com/KxkRwe9gP1
— Mike Garafolo (@MikeGarafolo) December 6, 2017
Smith-Schuster was suspended for his vicious fourth-quarter block on Bengals linebacker Vontaze Burfict, who was in a defenseless posture, according to the NFL’s ruling. Smith-Schuster then stood over Burfict as he lay motionless.
Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger said Wednesday that he didn’t believe Smith-Schuster should have been suspended, comparing the hit to one that Rob Gronkowski made Sunday that also drew a one-game suspension for the New England Patriots tight end.
“I didn’t think it was warranted. Thought maybe a fine, pretty steep fine,” Roethlisberger said. “Thought what happened, play that happened, happened in the context of a football play. [It] wasn’t away from the ball, hit on a defenseless player, much bigger football player. Obviously we don’t like the taunting, standing over him.
“I don’t like to compare players and suspensions, [but] look at what Gronk did and what JuJu did. They got the same suspension. I don’t know if that is necessarily fair, but that is above our pay grades.”
Iloka was originally given a one-game suspension for a hit on Steelers receiver Antonio Brown in the end zone in the fourth quarter when Brown was deemed to be a defenseless receiver. Brown held on to the ball for what resulted in the tying score.
However, after his ban was lifted, Iloka will only be fined $35,464.50 for his actions.
Iloka’s reduced punishment makes him eligible to play Sunday against the Bears in a game the Bengals must desperately win for any shot to net a wild-card berth.
Smith-Schuster will miss the Steelers’ home game against the Baltimore Ravens on Sunday night.