The Detroit Lions brought Jamie Collins Sr. in this year to provide leadership and experience to a young, struggling linebacking corps. But by midway through the second quarter of their season opener against the Chicago Bears, the Lions didn’t have any of that at their disposal.
After making a stop on an early-down run play, Collins expressed some frustration to the ref, demonstrating that the Bears running back was lowering his head to initiate contact with the crown of his helmet. In the process of showing this example to the official, Collins’ helmet collided with him, drawing an immediate 15-yard penalty and an instant ejection.
“It was a mistake,” Collins said on Thursday. “Nothing was intentional, obviously. It’s crazy that a person like me would ever, so they say, headbutt a referee. It wasn’t intentional. It is what it is. They called it. They threw me out. I can’t do nothing about it, but take it on the chin and hope for the best, get ready for this week.”
Collins says he didn’t realize he had made contact with the official, and didn’t agree with the decision to throw him out of the game.
“Obviously, I don’t agree with it,” Collins said. “I didn’t feel that I was a threat or anything towards him. It wasn’t like I just intentionally tried to make contact with him. It was just a mistake. I don’t agree with it but that’s not in my control. I just take the consequences and move on.”
However, the official—Alex Kemp—called the contact “unnecessary,” which came with a foul and an ejection.
“Players are allowed to touch officials, put a hand on your shoulder, or something of that nature,” Kemp said after Sunday’s game. “But unnecessary contact with a game official — it’s Rule 12-3-1-E. That covers unnecessary contact to a game official. So, that’s what I went with.”
The rulebook is a little unclear. While it clearly states “unnecessary physical contact with a game official” is not permitted, it goes into further detail, saying:
Under no circumstance is a player allowed to shove, push, or strike an official in an offensive, disrespectful, or unsportsmanlike manner.
Was Collins’ contact unnecessary? Without a doubt. Was it offensive, disrespectful or unsportsmanlike? That’s up for debate.
Either way, Collins had to sit out the rest of the game, and he watched the Chicago Bears score 21 straight points to erase a 17-point deficit and defeat the Lions. At first, Collins couldn’t even watch the game, he was too mixed up in his own emotions.
“That’s what I was thinking about, just me being selfish,” Collins said. “Being in the locker room while those guys were out there battling, man. We bleed and sweat together everyday, and I just couldn’t be out there with them to finish the game. That’s on me.”
Collins doesn’t know yet if he’ll be fined, but he hinted that he would appeal it, if necessary. Earlier in the week, it was reported that he will not face any further suspension for the action.