Rodney Harrison, Chris Simms rip NFL for Dre Greenlaw's ejection


The San Francisco 49ers’ defense helped carry the team to a primetime victory over the Los Angeles Chargers on Sunday Night Football, and the unit had to do it without one of its key players.

Dre Greenlaw was ejected for a hit on Justin Herbert just before halftime. The 49ers linebacker was attempting to stop the Chargers quarterback from scrambling for a first down when he made a helmet-to-helmet hit. Cornerback Jimmie Ward helped lodge Herbert into Greenlaw, but the contact to Herbert’s head led to Greenlaw’s removal from the contest.

After the game, NFL senior vice president of officiating Walt Anderson said Greenlaw’s “flagrant act” warranted an ejection. However, teammates, coaches and spectators have disagreed with that assessment of the play.

On “Peacock Sunday Night Football Final,” two NBC Sports analysts shared similar perspectives on the ejection. Rodney Harrison was a hard-hitting safety during his NFL career, and Chris Simms knows the dangers of being on the receiving end of those hits as a quarterback. Still, the two were in lockstep when it came to their views on Greenlaw’s ejection.

“There’s no way he should have been ejected because he wasn’t purposely dipping his head trying to go in there and make it helmet to helmet,” Harrison said. “Very disappointed in that call.”

“We saw 30 running backs today get hit just like that. Nobody cared. There was no penalty called,” Simms said. “... I don’t even think there should have been a penalty called, let alone a disqualification.”

Herbert went to the medical tent on the Chargers’ sideline following the play but returned to the field for the second half. 

Concussion issues for quarterbacks have been a major storyline in the 2022 NFL season. Tua Tagovailoa and Teddy Bridgewater both missed time with the Miami Dolphins due to concussions and NFL protocols. However, Simms believes the NFL deserves blame for how it chooses which players to protect.

“I’m just kind of sick of this,” he said. “The NFL is ruining the league and there’s no way this gets called if it’s a running back, a receiver or anybody else. It was called because of a quarterback. They can bullcrap all they want out of that one.”

Harrison believes the NFL can turn to the NCAA for a more straightforward solution to assessing helmet-to-helmet hits and consequential ejections during games.

“I just think it’s so inconsistent when it comes to these calls,” he said. “I think they should actually implement the college targeting rule. I think that’s what they need to do because then it becomes clear cut, you don’t have all this back and forth and figure out what you’re going to do.” 

The college targeting rule has its own levels of severity and escalation, and it is not immune to controversy, either. However, the thorough rules for what qualifies for an ejection are something that the NFL could explore to avoid more questionable decisions that take players out of games.

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