NFL fans were left fuming on Sunday when Atlanta Falcons safety Keanu Neal was penalised after suffering a devastating injury.
Neal went down with a left Achilles injury in Sunday’s game against the Indianapolis Colts, and the referees piled onto his misery by flagging him on the play.
Facing first and goal from the Falcons’ 9 yard line, Neal crumpled to the ground with a non-contact injury and was in such visible pain that he removed his helmet while the play was finishing up.
The refs deemed that to be unsportsmanlike contact, hitting him with a five-yard penalty and giving the Colts an automatic first down.
Two plays later, Indy scored a touchdown to go up 20-3.
Worse yet, Neal likely faces a fine for taking off his helmet.
Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Stefon Diggs was slapped with a $10,527 fine on Saturday for removing his helmet and taunting the crowd last week.
Fans were left fuming that Neal was flagged after suffering an injury.
— Ashley Steen (@aey1004) September 22, 2019
Looks Heartbreaking for Keanu Neal and for them to flag him is quite disgusting.
Some common sense goes a long way.
— First & Framerates Podcast ? ? (@VFBaller) September 22, 2019
NFL refs are just disgusting, man. Keanu Neal takes his off helmet AFTER the play is over knowing he probably just tore his ACL for the second time in a year, crying on the field in pain and frustration, and they FLAG him for unsportsmanlike conduct. Just disgraceful.
— Shawn Butler (@iBeButlerr) September 22, 2019
The unsportsmanlike conduct call on an injured Keanu Neal was a disgrace https://t.co/nHj5wuByAW
— The Season'sendoholic (@TheFalcoholic) September 22, 2019
Feel bad for #Falcons Safety Keanu Neal, he suffered what could be a season ending injury [was carted off the field] and in addition the refs gave him a penalty for taking his helmet off after his injury. https://t.co/5sKIUbnqdP
— Dov Kleiman (@NFL_DovKleiman) September 22, 2019
Neal’s season likely over
Neal had to be carted off after the play, and the broadcast confirmed that the injury was to his Achilles tendon, which ruled him out for the game and could cost him the rest of the season.
That would be particularly devastating considering he missed 15 games last season after tearing his ACL in the opening contest.
After the game, NFL Network cited a source who said the team believes Neal indeed tore his Achilles, with an MRI still to come.
“The man just keeps fighting,” Falcons safety Ricardo Allen, who missed most of last season with a torn Achilles, said after the game.
“I don’t really know the full thing, but in his eyes it didn’t look good. he understands the grind. He was with me last year, and I was with him last year. We understand what it takes to get back.”