EAGAN, Minn. -- The type of hit Vikings cornerback Holton Hill put on Seattle backup quarterback Paxton Lynch on Sunday night, Aug. 18, probably would have been celebrated on sports highlight shows back in the day. Now, it means an ejection and a likely fine from the NFL.
Hill was disqualified because of a helmet-to-helmet hit on Lynch with 3:53 remaining in the Vikings’ 25-19 preseason victory over the Seahawks at U.S. Bank Stadium. Hill hit Lynch as he was running out of the pocket to his left, drawing a personal-foul penalty.
“I’m old enough to know that years ago he would have been applauded for that hit,” Charles Davis, 54, the Fox analyst for the nationally televised game, said Monday in a telephone interview. “It would have been like the hit of the week. It would have been a segment on major sports shows and all of that, but we don’t do that anymore.
“We try it best to be safe, and I stand by that. But I don’t believe (Hill’s hit) was malicious. I don’t believe he intended to do that.”
Hill already has been hit with two four-game suspensions by the NFL to start the regular season because of substance-abuse issues. Missing eight games will cost him $268,235 of his $570,000 base salary.
Now, he’s likely to lose more money with a fine.
“There’s no question it was the right call because of the emphasis on what they’re doing,” said Davis, a former defensive back at the University of Tennessee who signed with the Dallas Cowboys but did not make the team. “He got ejected. He can expect to get an envelope from the commissioner’s office, the discipline office. That’s definitely coming.”
Vikings coach Mike Zimmer agreed it was not a legal hit but mostly stood by his cornerback.
“Number one, we don’t want to see anybody get hurt,” Zimmer said after the game. “I told (Seattle coach Pete Carroll) that after the game. I was sorry about his quarterback. Number two, he can’t drop his head.
“But saying that, when a quarterback is running an option, he ought to be fair game other than lowering your head and hitting him in the head. If they’re going to let these quarterbacks be runners, then we should be able to hit him. He didn’t hit him legally. But we need to hit these guys.”
Lynch left the game under his own power and was replaced by J.T. Barrett for the remainder of the night. Carroll said after the game that Lynch “felt he was OK” but was still in the NFL’s concussion protocol.
Zimmer expressed displeasure when training camp began last month at Hill getting a second four-game suspension tacked on top of the initial four-game suspension he received in April. The first was for violating the league’s policy on performance-enhancing substances, and the second was for violating the policy on substances of abuse.
Zimmer said last month he doesn’t “know if he’s going to make the team.”
Hill, 22, had a strong second half of his rookie season in 2018, starting three games. If he remains on the roster, he would be placed on the suspension list for the first eight games on Aug. 31, and would not count against the team’s 53-man roster limit.
While Hill likely would have been flagged for such a hit last year, he might not have been ejected. A rule change allows NFL officials in New York to review video for potential additional discipline this season.
“You look at the hit, Hill dropped his head, led with the helmet, initiated contact with the helmet, clearly a foul,” Fox rules analyst Dean Blandino, a former NFL vice president of officiating, said on the air. “The new rule this year is that folks in New York can get involved on a play and disqualify the player.”
Davis remarked how so much has changed since the 1990s when NFL Films produced the “Crunch Course” videos. In the past decade, ESPN had a weekly segment called “Jacked Up” that celebrated big hits.
“All the guys were sitting on the (studio TV) set and the big hits would happen and in unison they would chant, ‘You got jacked up,’ and guys would get clobbered out there,” Davis said. “And they’ve had to stop those things, obviously, with the change in culture. … I hear people say, ‘Well, they’re putting dresses on them.’ I say, ‘OK, you run out there on an NFL field, even with today’s rules, and see if the hitting is still real or not, because it is.’ “