ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — The NFL has announced it will suspend Joe Mays for one game and fine him $50,000 for an illegal hit that took off part of Matt Schaub’s ear on Sunday.
Denver Broncos head coach John Fox, Mays and the Houston Texans quarterback have all acknowledged that there were no ill intentions behind the contact, for which Mays was issued a personal foul penalty during the Broncos’ 31-25 loss. Many reports are suggesting Mays received the suspension because he is a repeat offender.
Denver’s starting middle linebacker was fined a modest $7,875 for a similar helmet-to-helmet hit on Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan during Denver’s 27-21 loss a week ago.
Mays will be banned from the Broncos facility this week and will miss Sunday’s home game against the Oakland Raiders pending an appeal, which Mays is expected to file. Barring that appeal, Mays will be reinstated Monday.
There is a possibility that Mays could play if there is no decision on the appeal before Sunday. That precedent was set last season when Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker James Harrison was allowed to play as an appeal process played out regarding a similar one-game suspension.
If the Broncos are without Mays this week, they will be short on linebackers.
Backup linebacker Nate Irving is still recovering from a concussion and the team is already without D.J. Williams, who is in the middle of serving a six-game suspension for violating the NFL’s policy on performance-enhancing drugs.
The team could ask veteran Keith Brooking, who has been splitting time at outside linebacker with Wesley Woodyard, to start in Mays’ place. Brooking was the Falcons’ starting middle linebacker for nine years and also played middle linebacker for the Cowboys for three years before signing with the Broncos this offseason.