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Bradley McDougald fined for helmet hit on Amari Cooper

Mike Florio

The officials should have flagged it. The league office fined it.

Last Sunday in London, Seahawks safety Bradley McDougald applied a vicious helmet-to-helmet hit to Raiders receiver Amari Cooper. On Friday, NFL senior V.P. of officiating Al Riveron said that McDougald should have been penalized for an illegal hit on a defenseless receiver or lowering the helmet to initiate contact with an opponent.

Per multiple reports, McDougald was fined $26,739. The fine has been characterized as a foul for “unnecessary roughness,” which presumably keeps it out of the lowering-the-helmet category — even if it could have been put there.

Which raises a broader question about the new rule. With plenty of instances of it being called unnecessary roughness because the hit is applied to a defenseless player, the new rule isn’t being enforced in part because the conduct is covered by pre-2018 rules.

Under pre-2018 rules or otherwise, McDougald should have been flagged. That fact that the league acknowledged that publicly will make it harder for McDougald to defeat the fine on appeal.