Jets Get a Break Next Week

San Diego Chargers defensive back Rodney Harrison has been suspended without pay for the Chargers' next game following his third serious rules violation in the past 16 games, the NFL announced today.

San Diego has a bye this weekend and will host the New York Jets on Sunday, November 3.

NFL Director of Football Operations Gene Washington issued the suspension following Harrison's misuse of his helmet against Oakland wide receiver Jerry Rice in the first quarter of last Sunday's Chargers-Raiders game.

Harrison was fined $12,500 for spearing downed running back Priest Holmes of the Kansas City Chiefs on October 13 and was warned that future unnecessary roughness violations of this type could result in increased disciplinary action, including suspension.  He also was fined for an illegal forearm hit
against wide receiver Eddie Kennison of the Denver Broncos on October 21, 2001.

In addition, Harrison was fined a full game check for an illegal helmet-to-helmet hit against Oakland tight end Jeremy Brigham on October 29, 2000.  

Washington said Harrison's misuse of his helmet against Rice last Sunday violated Rule 12, Section 2, Article 8(g) of the Official NFL Playing Rules:

           "...using any part of a player's helmet (including
the top/crown and forehead/hairline parts) or facemask to violently and unnecessarily butt, spear or ram an opponent; although such violent and unnecessary use of the helmet and facemask is impermissible against any opponent, game officials will give special attention in administering this rule to protecting those players who are in virtually defenseless postures (e.g., a player in the act of or just after throwing a pass, a receiver catching or attempting to catch a pass...)."

In a letter to Harrison this week, Washington stated, "On the play in question, which I have carefully reviewed, you made no effort to tackle the player or break up the pass (as did one of your teammates on the same play), and instead engaged in what appears to be simply a gratuitous effort to punish your opponent after the pass to him has been deflected by your

Washington noted that the NFL Competition Committee has placed a high priority on enforcing these rules both in its reports to the clubs and in its discussions with representatives of the NFL Players Association on playing rules.

"The League Policies for Players, which are distributed each year to players, specifically note that defensive players must not use the facemask or other part of the helmet against another player who is in a virtually defenseless posture, and specifically prohibits defensive players from launching themselves into a receiver in the act of catching or attempting to catch a pass, as the Oakland player was doing here," Washington said in his letter to Harrison.

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