NFL suspends Steelers’ Damontae Kazee for rest of season without pay after violent hit on Michael Pittman Jr.

Story by Liz Roscher

The NFL announced Monday that Pittsburgh Steelers safety Damontae Kazee has been suspended without pay for the remainder of the 2023 season, including playoff games, for “repeated violations of playing rules intended to protect the health and safety of players.”

The hit that triggered Kazee’s suspension came in the second quarter of the Steelers’ 30-13 loss the Indianapolis Colts on Saturday. Colts wide receiver Michael Pittman Jr. was fully extended and reaching for a pass when Kazee came in with a brutal takedown. Every referee in the vicinity threw their flags the moment the hit happened, and Pittman stayed down on the turf for awhile before leaving the game and being ruled out with a concussion. The Steelers were given a 15-yard penalty and Kazee was ejected.

Former player and current NFL vice president of health and safety Jon Runyan issued the suspension, citing rule 12, section 2, article 9, which determines that it is a foul if a defender uses his helmet or facemask to hit the head or neck area of a defenseless player, and defines that a player in a defenseless posture includes a player attempting to catch a pass who hasn’t had time to clearly become a runner.

In the statement, Runyan noted that Kazee’s punishment was so severe due to his status as a repeat offender.

Josina Anderson of CBS Sports reported that Kazee will appeal the suspension, which will be heard by either Derrick Brooks or James Thrash, the hearing officers jointly appointed by the NFL and the NFLPA.