We've been waiting to hear what Antonio Smith would say about the NFL punishing him for swinging a helmet at Richie Incognito last weekend. To the surprise of no one in Houston, Mark Berman of Fox 26 was the first to report Antonio's reaction. The Texans' defensive end had this to say:
"The NFL handed down a three-week suspension, two preseason games and one regular season game," Smith said. "My plan is, like anybody who gets in this situation, is to appeal it because that gives you the opportunity to state your case, and to talk to the NFL and give them an opportunity to hear what you have to say."
"I just swung the helmet out of frustration," Smith said. "Anybody who really studies the film, you can see I clutched the helmet inside of my body, pulled it closer to me, instead of reaching out trying to hit somebody with the helmet.
"Initially I was full of frustration. I swung the helmet, but I didn't swing the helmet to hit Richie Incognito. If I was going to swing the helmet to hit Richie Incognito, it wouldn't have been hard. He's right there close. You can see how low the helmet was and how tight I brought it to my body."
"The full video speaks for itself," Smith said. "He punched me in the face mask and once he punched me in the face mask, you can see him hold onto it and try to bend my neck back, holding my face mask all the way up.
"I finally got his hand off of my facemask, he punched me one last time with his right hand. It was a deliberate punch to my face. You see how far my head went back. It was a deliberate grab of my face mask, the twisting and the jerking of it and then one last punch at the end."
"I apologize to the city of Houston and my team for getting put in the situation that we are put in right now," Smith said.
"Regardless of what the outcome (of his appeal) might be or what I think about it, the bottom line is that the league handed down the suspension and that hurts my team and in hurting my team it hurts the city of Houston."
Unless Smith is hoping that the appeal will result in the league levying some sort of discipline for Incognito (and that's unlikely, I reckon, if they haven't done it already), it's difficult to imagine the appeal succeeding. The loss of that regular season game check ($352,951.00, as Berman says in the linked article) has to be tough to stomach, especially when it appears Incognito isn't going to get punished for his role in the exchange, but I don't see the league reversing course on this.