Buffalo Bills offensive lineman Bobby Hart had his disciplinary hearing Wednesday before jointly appointed NFL appeals officer Derrick Brooks.
A decision on whether his one-game suspension stemming from a post-game altercation with Tennessee Titans defensive tackle Jeffery Simmons will be overturned or upheld is expected to be rendered Thursday, according to league sources not authorized to speak publicly.
Update: Suspension upheld
The suspension was upheld by Brooks following the appeal hearing, league spokesman Michael Signora announced Thursday morning.
Explanation of Bobby Hart’s suspension
During the hearing, per sources, it was alleged that there’s a video from the game that shows Simmons apparently spitting on Hart, which led to the confrontation following the game during which Hart inadvertently made contact with an unnamed Titans assistant coach.
It’s unknown how Brooks will rule based on this allegation. NFL appeals officer James Thrash upheld Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Mike Evans’ one-game suspension for a fight with New Orleans Saints corner Marshon Lattimore.
Paul T. DeRousselle, Simmons’ Texas-based agent who is also an attorney, denied the allegation.
“Jeffery plays the game with a lot of passion, but he plays the game the right way,” DeRousselle said.
There was a previous allegation in 2020 following a playoff game involving Simmons allegedly spitting on since-retired Baltimore Ravens Pro Bowl offensive guard Marshal Yanda during a game. That was never confirmed or denied by Simmons in an interview with Tennessee reporters about the incident.
“I know what I did and what I didn’t do,” Simmons said. “Today is Wednesday. My focus is on the Chiefs now. What I did do in this past game and what I didn’t do this last game isn’t going to help us win this week. I’m moving on from that game. I know what I did and what I didn’t do.”
Simmons was not fined by the NFL because there was no visual evidence of him spitting on Yanda.
“I’ve never been spitten in my face,” Yanda said on Jan. 11, 2020. “I literally got spit right in my face by No. 98. He needs to be put on notice by the refs, by the entire NFL. He was saying some stuff today that’s just ridiculous conduct for the NFL. I just want to put him on notice. That was ridiculous conduct.”
Hart was punished by the NFL for both his aggressiveness and partially for his poor aim. He grabbed a Titans player (Simmons) following a Monday night victory during the dust-up. Instead, he inadvertently made contact with a Titans assistant coach, per the NFL.
NFL vice president of football operations Jon Runyan issued the suspension, citing a violation of Rule 12, Section 3, Article 1, which prohibits unsportsmanlike conduct and applies to “any act which is contrary to the generally understood principles of sportsmanship including throwing a punch at an opponent.”
Runyan wrote a letter to Hart explaining the suspension, describing him as the aggressor in the altercation.
“As both teams were heading to the tunnel, you walked directly across the field to seek out your opponent. You approached him near the end zone and a coach had to hold you back as others shook hands.
”Once you and your opponent were in the end zone near the tunnel, you confronted him and immediately swung at him with a closed fist, striking the head of a Tennessee coach. Your aggressive conduct could have caused serious injury and clearly does not reflect the high standards of sportsmanship expected of a professional.”
If the suspension is upheld, Hart will be out for the undefeated Bills’ Sept. 25 game against the Miami Dolphins. He will be eligible to return on Monday following that matchup should he serve the suspension.