The NFL has suspended Jacksonville Jaguars running back Leonard Fournette for one game without pay for violating league rules on unsportsmanlike conduct and unnecessary roughness.
The league made the announcement on Monday, the day after Fournette and Buffalo Bills defensive end Shaq Lawson were ejected because of their roles in a brawl between the two teams late in the third quarter Sunday in Orchard Park, N.Y. The players threw multiple punches at each other in a melee on the sideline outside the end zone.
Jon Runyan, the NFL’s vice president of football operations, informed Fournette of the decision via letter on Monday, telling him: “Sportsmanship is the cornerstone of the game and the League will not tolerate game-related misconduct that conveys a lack of respect for the game itself and those involved in it. ... Video of the incident shows that you were not a participant in the play and that you ran from your sideline to the opposite side of the field to insert yourself as an active participant in the fight.” He concluded: “Your actions adversely reflected on the NFL and have no place in the game.”
The league’s statement made no mention of discipline for other players, including Lawson, involved in the incident.
Fournette is reportedly expected to appeal the suspension.
The fracas began after Jags wideout Donte Moncrief made a 29-yard contested grab over Bills cornerback Levi Wallace, who continued fighting for possession of the football as the two tumbled to the ground. While neither player refused to give up his grip, teammates from both teams came to the area and got heated.
Shortly after the squabble began, Jaguars running back Carlos Hyde gave a push to Lawson, who shoved Hyde back and drew the ire of Fournette, who came at Lawson swinging.
Jaguars head coach Doug Marrone said Monday that he and Fournette talked about the matter.
“We discussed it one-on-one. Those discussions are private, and we discussed all the personal fouls with the team,” he said. “We have 22 personal fouls, which leads the league. It is something that stops us from having the opportunity to win football games. I addressed it with the team and addressed it with some players individually.”
Marrone said Fournette will remain a team captain unless the team doesn’t want him in that role.
“Captaincy is voted by the team,” he said. “If the team came to me and said they wanted to strip his captaincy, then that is a team decision, not necessarily just the head coach’s decision.”
Sunday’s game against Indianapolis will be one more Fournette misses this season. He has appeared in just five games this season, sidelined by a hamstring injury. A 1,000-yard rusher in 2017, he has carried the ball just 90 times for 314 yards and four touchdowns this season.
—Field Level Media