Last Friday I wrote that Colts outside linebacker Erik Walden should absolutely be suspended for his headbutt of Titans tight end Delanie Walker. Yesterday, I wrote that Erik Walden was indeed suspended one game by the NFL for the headbutt. Today, I'm writing that after Walden appealed the suspension, the NFL upheld the ruling and Walden will for sure miss this Sunday's game against the Arizona Cardinals.
Former Baltimore Ravens center Matt Birk was the hearing officer for Walden's appeal, and he upheld the ruling today, per NFL spokesman Greg Aiello. Because of his suspension, he will also lose $176,470.58 - the amount of his paycheck for the game. More significantly (at least to us) is the fact that he will miss the Colts' game against the Cardinals on Sunday. The 6-4 Cardinals are already a 1.5 point favorite over the Colts and now Indianapolis will be playing without a starting outside linebacker.
Walden was actually having a good season and playing well, but there is no excuse for his actions, and as I wrote yesterday he should just be happy that the punishment wasn't more significant. He should have been ejected last week during the game on top of the 15-yard personal foul penalty that was called, and he very well could have been suspended for longer than just one game. There is just no excuse for ripping off a player's helmet and then headbutting him. None whatsoever.
Without Walden, rookie outside linebacker Bjoern Werner should get the start and see the majority of the playing time. He recently returned from an injury and is still working at learning the spot and adjusting to the NFL level, which has led to him not being much of a factor on the defense. Hopefully this game will get him more experience and help acclimate him faster, but hopefully Werner will also be able to make a contribution against the Cardinals, because the Colts defense struggled enough when Walden - who was playing well - was in the lineup. Now, he won't be thanks to a very stupid action on his part.
On a larger scale, the NFL also went 2-0 this week in terms of suspensions, as Buccaneers safety Dashon Goldson's one game suspension for an illegal hit was upheld. The NFL had previously endured a stretch where they had quite a few suspensions overturned, but this week both of them were upheld.