The NFL announced today that OLB Erik Walden will serve a one game suspension for head-butting Tennessee Titans TE Dalanie Walker after forcibly removing Walker’s helmet.
Walden lost his temper and would surely do things differently if given another chance. Nevertheless, his act drew the anger of Colts fans (and QB Andrew Luck), and outside of the team and fans, people viewed it as a cheap shot of near-Ndamukong Suh proportion.
Walden has apologized, and he is appealing the suspension. He is likely to be made an example by the league, though, as they are cracking down on this type of thing. From NFL.com’s Dan Hanzus:
The NFL is making a concerted effort to closely monitor post-whistle skirmishes. The NFL's reaction to Walden's behavior sends a message.
"It was a selfish act," Walden said after the game, per ESPN.com. "It could have cost my team bigger than I did. I lost my composure. It's something that can't happen. It wasn't really something he did, it was ticky-tack. I can't allow myself to take it that far."
Walker’s quote, if you haven’t seen it yet, was a bit more colorful. From The Tennessean’s Jim Wyatt, via USA Today:
"What got him riled up? I was whupping his butt, that's what happened, and the cat couldn't take it when he was getting whupped,'' Walker said afterward. "He got frustrated, and he should have been ejected for what he did. That's bush league and that's the type of stuff we don't need in this league."
Obviously, the sooner the whole thing blows over, the better. The punishment appears to most to fit the crime, though many expected Walden to be ejected from Thursday night’s game.
Assuming the suspension goes through, rookie Bjoern Werner will start in Walden’s place at Arizona (unless the appeal causes a delay), with Andy Studebaker and Cam Johnson picking up the slack as backups (Studebaker is the third stringer on Walden’s side, and Johnson is listed as Mathis’s backup).